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POC braces for tough year

The Philippine Olympic Committee braces for an impactful 2023 as it joins hands with the Philippine Sports Commission in a bid to keep the national athletes in winning mode.

With the Philippines facing a heavy schedule loaded with major meets like the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Phnom Penh and the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou on the calendar, POC president Abraham ‘Bambol’ Tolentino feels its team-up with newly-appointed PSC chairperson Richard ‘Dickie’ Bachmann will be crucial.

“This will be our busiest year. Lots of tournaments in store,” Tolentino said in the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at the East Ocean Palace on Tuesday.

Despite the workload, Tolentino swears goals can be achieved with the help of stakeholders and its partnership with Bachmann and the PSC.

“We both take a hands-on approach in dealing with our jobs,” Tolentino said. “He was like that with his former job.”

Before taking the PSC post, Bachmann worked for his former team Alaska in the Philippine Basketball Association.

“This is a good start for Philippine sports,” he said.

Still, Tolentino insists host Cambodia will crowd the perennial SEA Games powers for the first three slots in the leaderboard and that the Philippines feels the pressure to retain its previous finish-fourth place—during the Hanoi edition last year.

But even if the Philippines is unable to match its planned placing in Phnom Penh, the POC leader guaranteed that the gold medals in 5×5 basketball and 3×3 will be won.

“I was speaking with (officials) of 5×5 and 3×3 and we will get the gold medals back,” he said, noting how valuable those golds in those sports are.

More than 800 athletes will be sent to compete in Phnom Penh for the 5 to 17 May SEA Games.

Tolentino said the key to winning medals is full participation.

“We will send entries to sports that we are not familiar with. But we will train them so they can be competitive.”

Host Cambodia has announced the playing of 49 sports that will dangle 608 gold medals.

Just months after the SEA Games, it will be the Asian Games penciled for 23 September to 8 October in China.

While the SEA Games is giving Tolentino concerns, he oozes with so much optimism over the Asian Games.

“I think we can surpass our previous best finish in the Asian Games this year because our best will be there like (pole vaulter) EJ Obiena, the weightlifters, gymnasts,” he said.

Apart from Phnom Penh and Hangzhou, Filipino athletes and the POC and PSC are also getting ready for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, FIBA World Cup, Asian championships in swimming and BMX as well as the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts towards the end of the year and countless Olympic qualifying events for Paris 2024.

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