MANILA – The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) will only find out about the fate of the Filipino athletes who are being lobbied to be sneaked into the Asian Games at the 11th hour on Tuesday.
POC president Bambol Tolentino on Monday said they would only meet the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee (HAGOC) again the following day to find out if their appeal for replacement athletes has been approved or not.
Initially set for Sunday, HAGOC wanted to have the meeting with the POC on Monday instead, but the POC had already set its send-off event for Asian Games-bound athletes on the said day, thus setting the meeting on Tuesday instead.
Tolentino, Philippine Sports Commission chairman Dickie Bachmann, Senate Committee on Sports chairman Bong Go and a good bunch of athletes playing in the Asian Games and the Asian Para Games, attended the said send-off ceremonies at the PICC in Pasay.
Among those not in attendance was Gilas' men's 5x5 team, which is among the subjects for appeal.
The POC, along with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, lobbied for Calvin Abueva and Jason Perkins to replace the injured Brandon Rosser and Jamie Malonzo.
However, Abueva and Perkins were not listed in the initial 60-man pool submitted for consideration to the final entry by name for Gilas in the Asian Games men's 5x5 basketball event so an appeal had to be made.
If approved, Abueva and Perkins complete Gilas' "Final 12" to Hangzhou, which currently consists of locks Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar, June Mar Fajardo, Justin Brownlee, Ange Kouame, Chris Newsome, Calvin Oftana, RR Pogoy, Terrence Romeo and Mo Tautuaa.
If not, Stanley Pringle, the 13th member of the pool, cracks the final lineup, but the possibility of Gilas only bringing in 11 players for the Asian Games looms.
Also among those being lobbied for replacements are athletes from football, golf, gymnastics and fencing.
2018 haul target
During the send-off event, Tolentino said he hoped that the Philippine team would at least win four gold medals in the rare odd-numbered year edition of the Asian Games.
The Philippine team also won four golds in the 2018 edition in Jakarta, which implied that Tolentino wanted the Philippine team to at least match the gold count this year.
"[My target for them is a] minimum of four [golds] para bawi lang doon sa [nagdaang] (so they can at least match the count from the previous) Asian Games," Tolentino said.
He even thinks that despite missing some big names like world gymnastics champion Caloy Yulo, the Philippine team could even get more medals this year in Hangzhou.
"Nandyan pa naman ang boxers, si EJ [Obiena], may nakatago pang track [athletes], swimmer, esports, at weightlifting (The boxers, EJ, some tracksters, swimmers, esports players, and weightlifters are still there)," Tolentino further said.
What could further motivate the boxers to go for the gold, he added, is that the Asian Games serve as a qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics. (PNA)