HOSTS Philippines are the team to beat in the Sea Games rugby sevens competition on Nov 30-Dec 11.
Defending champions Malaysia believe the Philippines have the pedigree to win the Sea Games title.
Traditional rivals, Singapore and Thailand could, however, upset the odds.
The national squad are confident ahead of the Games following their victory in the Asia Rugby Sevens Trophy in Jakarta on Sunday, but the tournament did not feature the Philippines.
The Philippines will instead compete in the top-flight Asia Sevens Series next month.
Malaysia Rugby (MR) honorary secretary Amrul Hazarin Hamidon said: “The Philippines have been strong in recent years and with home ground advantage, they will be the favourites.
“We will be analysing their strengths and weaknesses, and come up with strategies for the Sea Games.
“We also have to be prepared against teams with naturalised players.
“However, our all-local team are capable of overcoming all challenges. As long as they continue working hard, they should be able to do well,” said Amrul.
The eligibility requirements for naturalised players is stricter for the Sea Games where they need to be passport holders of the nation they are representing.
Malaysia lost 24-7 to the Philippines in the 2015 Sea Games final but defeated Singapore 22-7 in the 2017 edition for the gold medal.