Asian Games thoughts

THE Philippines finished the 18th Asian Games in 19th place with a total of 21 medals (four gold, two silver and 15 bronze medals). It is the best haul since the 2002 Incheon Games when the country took home 26 medals.

The 19th-place finish is the best since the 2010 staging when the country was in 18th spot albeit with 19 medals and four of the golden variety.

Can everything be quantified in medals? Not at all. The men’s basketball and women’s volleyball teams thrilled and gave hopeful performances. Maybe I am not seeing everything, but I don’t hear the usual debacle stories and opinions. Sure there were 37 countries participating in the 18th Asian Games, but a step up, is a step up. The task is to continue the upward movements with the newfound optimism and support for certain sports.

The men’s basketball team’s fifth-place finish bettered the previous seventh-place spot. Not bad for a patch up squad. It was a good idea to get the core of the Rain or Shine team with their former coach calling the shots and aided by players from other squads. Bravo!

We also commend the Philippine Basketball Association, the Rain or Shine organization, Yeng Guiao, and all the players for their efforts! You did us proud.

Am glad that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) reversed its initial decision to pull out. And while many people deserve props for that, to my knowledge, federation executive director Renauld “Sonny” Barrios and legal counsel Atty. Aga Francisco had a hand in the change of directions when they met with key media personnel with intimate knowledge of the pulse of the basketball community and the public. They immediately reported their findings to the top leaderships and the next day came the change in direction. And what a finish and show, right? Who wasn’t riveted to the tube or the online streaming to watch their games?

We applaud the SBP and its leadership that extends all the way to the top for their willingness to listen and dialogue. That’s great. I attended a general assembly of one other sport a couple of years ago on how to help their sport but nothing really happened except for posturing.

For me, I think it is great that women paved the way for the Philippines’s gold-medal showings!

Arguably, Hidilyn Diaz has been the shining star for the country during the past Olympics—where she won a silver medal that was the country’s first in 20 years—and Asian Games where she won the gold medal in her weightlifting category. More power to you, Ms. Hidilyn.

But there are others, too!

Yuka Saso won two gold medals in golf (individual and team along with Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go) while Margie Didal bagged one for roller sports! Not bad!

And then judoka Kiyomi Watanabe won a silver medal, as well, in the category!

In fact, 13 of the country’s 21 medals won in this Asian Games were courtesy of the distaff side. Marvelous!

The women’s volleyball team didn’t make a podium finish but to see us represented was a proud moment. If we gain more international experience and exposure and we improve on the domestic resources, who knows how far we can go?

Here’s hoping that women’s sports gets more attention and funding. I like the fact that these women are calling attention to sports and making names for themselves. We hope to see more.

The fact that we won medals in sports that do not ordinarily grab the public’s attention means we should also look at other sports. I am not suggesting we lessen what we give to basketball. Far from that. After all, hoops is the national sport. I am merely saying that we must give more focus to the other sports.

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