POC knocking on heaven’s door

The Philippine Star
POC knocking on heaven�s door
Abraham Tolentino.
STAR / File

HANGZHOU – Barely three days before the 19th Asian Games formally unfolds, Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino is still trying to move the mountains of Hangzhou batting for the inclusion of a handful athletes to the official roster.

Tolentino has been burning the lines with local organizers since his arrival here Tuesday, hoping for their generosity in giving the late Pinoy entries the green light.

“Denied na ‘yung sa golf and fencing,” he said over the phone early Wednesday evening. He took the decision concerning golfer Chanelle Avaricio with a grain of salt.

“Baka madamay pa ‘yung basketball eh,” said the mayor from Tagaytay City, who was at the Xiaoshan International Airport to welcome a small Philippine delegation that took a six-hour journey from Manila via Hong Kong.

Tolentino is still hoping for the inclusion of a handful athletes from gymnastics and women’s football ahead of the competition and the formal opening ceremony that will feature over 12,000 athletes, a number that will surpass that of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“Sana payagan pa ‘yung sa basketball,” he added, referring to Calvin Abueva, Jason Perkins, Terrence Romeo and Mo Tautuaa, who are hoping to don the proud Gilas jersey.

Gilas, fresh from a thrilling roller coaster ride in the FIBA World Cup, is on an ambitious bid in this Asian Games, hoping to end a 25-year medal drought for the sport dearest to basketball-crazy Filipinos.

Tolentino is not losing hope on squeezing the said athletes in but at the same time said the campaign will go on regardless of the final verdict – with or without them.

“Fight pa din naman. Especially in basketball. We have Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame and June Mar Fajardo,” said Tolentino.

Members of the Gilas squad will plane in on Saturday just in time for the grand opening ceremony.

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