The bulk of the Philippine delegation left for Jakarta, Indonesia on Friday in time for Saturday’s glitzy opening ceremonies of the 2018 Asian Games.
Sports officials made no predictions on how far the Philippines and its 272 athletes could go in the games featuring Asia’s best athletes.
For President Rodrigo Duterte, members of the delegation are already heroes in his eyes, urging them to do their best, fair and square in the games slated from Aug. 18 to Sept. 3.
“Sa pananaw ng presidente, they are already heroes, for as long as they do their best,” said Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez, who encouraged the athletes to dream of the Olympics and a medal when they compete in the games.
“All 272 athletes have that dream when they prepare. What we can do is hope and pray that they will do their best,” added Ramirez.
Sports officials are also hoping the Philippines will show improvement, after winning a gold, three silvers, and 11 bronze medals the last time around in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
This ranked the Philippines 22nd out of the 37 participating countries.
Officials feel that the Philippines will be strong in martial arts, like jiu-jitsu, boxing, and judo.
The Games will run from Aug. 18 until Sept. 2.
Among the athlete also expected to do good are weightlifters Hidilyn Diaz (who has won an Olympic silver medal), Nestor Colonia, and Kristel Macrohon.
The boxers include Carlo Paalam, Ian Clark Bautista, Mario Fernandez, James Palicte, Joel Bacho, Eumir Felix Marcial, Aira Villegas, and Nesthy Petecio.
There, too, are fencers Nathaniel Perez, Brennan Louie, Michael Nicanor, Noellito Jose, Samantha Catantan, Maxine Esteban, Justine Gail Tinio, and Hanniel Abella.
Triathlon has Mark Hosana, John Leerams Chicano, Nikko Huelgas, Ma. Claire Adorna, Marion Kim Mangrobang, and Kimberly Kilgroe.
From judo, there’s Shugen Nakano, Keisei Nakano, Kohei Kohagura, Iyomi Watanabe, Mariya Takahashi and Megumi Kurayoshi.
But all eyes will still be on the basketball team, which will be bannered by Cleveland Cavaliers star guard Jordan Clarkson, who was given a one-time approval by the NBA to suit up for the Philippines in the Asiad.
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