HANGZHOU—The fight continues relentlessly for the inclusion of four basketball players in the men’s 5×5 team as the fight for honors in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou ceremoniously got going in Thursday.
“We will push it a thousand times, we’ll push it every time they deny it,” Tolentino said after the flag-raising ceremony for the country at the Asian Games Village (Athletes Village) on Thursday afternoon.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas sought the POC on the inclusion of Calvin Abueva, Terrence Romeo, Mo Tautuaa and Jason Perkins on the 5×5 team but was denied several times during the pre-delegation registration meeting, or DRM, two weeks ago and the supposedly final DRM here in Hangzhou last Sunday.
The inclusion of the four players has yet to be formally and officially denied by the Hagoc but Tolentino said he’s not giving up.
“We’ll push it every minute and they deny it,” he stressed.
Gilas Pilipinas is due here Sunday and will play Bahrain as its first assignment in Group C action on Tuesday.
The POC also tried to include three athletes in fencing and one each in gymnastics and golf as late replacements but were denied with finality by the Hagoc.
They were fencers Alexa Lareabal, Hae Abella and Lee Ergina, golfer Chanelle Avaricio and gymnast Levi Jung-Ruivivar.
Tolentino led the flag-raising ceremony that formally welcomed the Philippine delegation in Hangzhou, the third city in China to host the Asian Games after Beijing in 1990 and Hangzhou in 2010.
“This is the start of the warm hosting and showcasing of the Hangzhou Asian Games,” said Tolentino, who was accompanied by Philippine chess legend Grandmaster Eugene Torre and iceskating head and deputy chef de mission Nikki Cheng, representing chef de mission Rep. Richard Gomez who’s due here Friday, and kickboxing head Atty. Wharton Chan.
“We are praying for fair sports and we strongly hope to separate all other issues from the Games,” he said. “Geopolitics has no place in sport. Sports united people.”
Extremely handicapped by Hagoc’s refusal to add athletes is women’s golf where Chanelle Avaricio wasn’t allowed to replace Princess Superal, who was on the original list submitted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines but chose to play in a Ladies Professional Golf Association Q-School instead.
That left Luis Kaye Go to defend the women’s individual and team titles she won with now Japanese citizen Yuka Saso and pro Bianca Pagdanganan in Jakarta four years ago.
Go will play alongside young sensation Rianne Malixi in the three-to-play, two-to-count in Asian Games women’s golf that is now open to professional players.
This marks the first time that the Philippines will play shorthanded in Asian Games golf, according to NGAP secretary-general Bones Floro.
But Floro said golf’s unpredictability gives every team a chance, including the Go-Malixi tandem, here.
Skateboarded Margielyn Didal, also a gold winner in Indonesia, arrived in the village Thursday beaming despite coming off an ankle surgery almost a year ago.
“I was forced to stop 11 months ago because of my injury. As of now, I’m focused on my recovery to regain my confidence and get comfy with my board,’’ said Didal, the 24-year-old pride of Cebu and a veteran of the Tokyo Olympics.
Didal will march alongside world No. 2 pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena during the traditional parade of athletes during the opening ceremony of the Asian Games 19th edition on Saturday at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium.
Also due here is Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo who will defend her weightlifting gold medal not at 55 kgs where she won in Tokyo, but at 59 kgs.
Image credits: POC-PSC Media Pool