Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham 'Bambol' Tolentino expressed his optimism that Team Philippines bound for the Cambodia Southeast Asian Games can eclipse the country's fourth overall finish in the Vietnam Games last year.
Tolentino's optimism is rooted in the fact that the Philippine athlete-delegation for this year's SEA Games in Phnom Penh is far more than what the country sent in Hanoi last year.
The Philippines sent 656 athletes in the Vietnam Games but this year, the country is sending 860 athletes to Cambodia.
“[My prediction for our overall finish] changed a bit because last SEA Games we sent 600 plus athletes. Now, we are sending 800 plus athletes so that's a huge factor aside from the surprises [that our other athletes can pull off],” said Tolentino, who initially said that finishing in top three might be hard for the Philippines.
“There will be a lot of surprises. Remember that all the restrictions (selection of sports to be played) will be applicable to all except the host. So, we're just going to play 10 games like Vietnam and Thailand (he meant that the number of sports that the visiting countries will play at are just the same).”
Team Philippines will compete in 608 events across 38 sports as it hopes to eclipse its fourth place finish in last year's edition of the Games in Hanoi, where the country tallied 52 gold medals, 70 silvers, and 105 bronzes for a total of 227 medals.
With blue chip athletes Hidilyn Diaz and Eumir Marcial unable to join this year's SEA Games in Cambodia due to injuries, Tolentino said that he believes that many up-and-coming athletes will fill the gaps and make a name for themselves.
“Without Hidilyn [Diaz] and Eumir [Marcial] and Carlos Yulo limited to four events only. There's so many athletes that will rise to the occasion.”
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