PHILIPPINE Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino remains upbeat that the Filipino athletes will still contend for the 31st Southeast Asian Games overall title in Vietnam next year.
Of course, the Vietnamese will go all out to dominate on home soil in Hanoi.
In last year's edition which Philippines dominated with a whooping 149 gold medals for its second SEA Games overall championship, Vietnam placed second with 98 golds.
"Lalaban tayo," said Tolentino in last week's online Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum. "Depende nga 'yan sa events and sports na lalaruin. Pero you think na papayag ang Vietnam na hindi sila ang mag-overall? Nandoon na sa kanila lahat ng rekado?"
"Pero hahabulin natin 'yan," he added. "Basta kaya nating ipadala 'yung atleta natin na… hindi restricted. Na ito lang, hanggang 500 athletes lang tayo, hanggang 600 lang."
If he has his way, Tolentino wants Filipino athletes to compete in every event.
"Maganda, padahan natin lahat," said Tolentino. "Mas maganda padahan natin lahat. Salihan natin lahat, kahit pa hindi natin masyadong nilalaro, salihan natin lahat."
"We still have time to prepare for that," he added.
As the COVID-19 pandemic threw international sports schedules into disarray, Tolentino said he has no doubt that the SEA Games will push through on November 11 to December 2, 2021.
Vietnam's success in fighting the coronavirus boosted the country's chances of proceeding the biennial meet.
"Definitely, matutuloy 'yun," said Tolentino. "Kung nakita niyo ang record ng Vietnam sa COVID, zero 'di ba? Ang galing ng Vietnam, zero."
As of yesterday, Vietnam has reported 331 cases of COVID-19, with zero deaths.
One thing that Tolentino has to worry about will be the budget cuts in the Vietnam SEA Games.
"So definitely, ang epekto noon, mababawasan din 'yung events, mababawasan din ang sports," said Tolentino.
With the golden success of dancesport, kickboxing, arnis, and obstacle course,
Tolentino plans to lobby for the four events to be included in the Vietnam Games.
Dancesport contributed 10 golds, kickboxing added three, arnis had 14 golds, and obstacle racing brought six gold medals to the Philippine tally.
"Sana, pagbigayan," said Tolentino. "Pero paano natin ila-lobby 'yun kung ganyan, baka nga mabawas pa 'yun."