INCHEON, South Korea—Members of the Philippine delegation’s most celebrated team—Gilas Pilipinas—arrived for the 17th Asian Games almost hitch-free on Saturday night, a day after Tropical Storm Mario wrought havoc in Luzon and Metro Manila, and caused jitters to the World Cup veterans’ smooth flight to this bustling industrial city close to the capital Seoul.
Philippine delegation officials said Gilas’s Philippine Airlines flight from Manila was expected to touch down at 9 p.m. (10 p.m. in Manila).
Apprehensions for Gilas having to rebook its flight reared on Friday, after Assistant Coach Aboy Castro couldn’t catch a plane for home. He had in his possession all of the 12 team members’ passports, which he presented during the team managers’ and technical meeting on Thursday night, where naturalized player Marcus Douthit and Jimmy Alapag’s inclusion on the team was guaranteed.
While Gilas made its way to Incheon, assistant coaches Jong Uichico, Tad Baldwin and Josh Reyes did their scouting chores, not only on Kazakhstan but on possible off-competition hassles the team may encounter.
Reyes and company inspected the route from the Athletes’ Village to Hwaseong Sports Complex, noting delays on the road that may cause trouble to the Filipino dribblers.
The basketball qualifying round started on Saturday with the Kazakhs routing Saudi Arabia, 89-59, and India blasting Palestine, 89-49, in Group B and Mongolia defeating Hong Kong, 86-77, and Kuwait winning by a mile over the Maldives, 116-44, in Group A.
The Philippines and Iran drew byes in Group B, with the Filipinos expecting to open their Asian Games campaign against Kazakhstan on Tuesday.
The Philippine campaign in weightlifting, meanwhile, crashed after Nestor Colonia failed to lift 120 kg in his first three attempts in the snatch of the men’s 56-kg class. Citing poor conditioning at competition time, Colonia was reduced to a spectator as Vietnamese champion Kim Tuan Thach broke the Asian record with 134 kg in the snatch and paired it with a 160 in the clean and jerk for a front-running 290 total in the qualifiers.
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