PHL cue masters and tracksters brace for tough Hanoi SEA Games

PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez — PSC

HANOI — World champion Carlo Biado of billiards and an assembly of potential gold medalists from various sports will arrive on Wednesday and could join the parade of nations in the opening ceremony of the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEAG).

Cue masters and perennial SEA Games gold contenders Chezka Centeno and Rubilen Amit are likewise checking in as well as Filipino billiards icon Efren “Bata” Reyes prior to the opening rites on Thursday.

Joining them are potential medalists from athletics, bowling, cycling MTB, esports, and jiujitsu led by world-renowned grapplers Margarita “Meggie” Ochoa and Annie Ramirez.

The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) was tasked to facilitate the trouble-free departure of the athletes and will be on hand to welcome them to Hanoi.

“So far, so good. The arrivals have been going on smoothly. We are preparing for the opening ceremony and have been continuously providing assistance to our athletes,’’ said PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez, the country’s chef de mission to the Games.

Mr. Biado is the reigning US Open 8-ball champion and last year’s US Open 9-ball champion after striking gold in the 2017 World Games in Poland. Men’s football, beach handball, kickboxing, and diving events are already in full swing.

Filipino rowers and athletes from pencak silat and chess are warming up to kick off their respective medal campaigns.

The nation’s participation in the 11-nation multi-sports meet has been funded by the PSC, the government arm in sports, to fuel the title-retention bid of the 980-strong delegation, including 641 athletes from 38 sports.

Team Philippines captured the overall title when it hosted the Games in 2019 where Filipino athletes collected 149 gold, 117 silver, and 121 bronze medals from 56 sports.

Hurdler Clinton Bautista, javelin thrower Melvin Calano, decathlete Aries Toledo, marathoner Christine Hallasgo and heptathlete Sarah Dequinan are all upbeat about their chances to retain their SEAG gold medals before leaving Manila.

Joining the 50-man athletics team bound for the Vietnamese capital are medalists Mark Harry Diones, Janry Ubas, Francis Medina, Edgardo Alejan, Jr., Anfernee Lopena, Eloiza Luzon, and Marestella Sunang.

Cyclists Ariana Dormitorio, John Derrick Farr and Eleazar Barba, Jr. will also begin their hunt for medals as well as bowlers Merwin Tan, Lara Posadas, and Alexis Sy.

A total of 120 athletes, coaches, and officials are due to be billeted on Wednesday before athletes from archery, beach volleyball, dancesport, esports, sepak takraw settle on Thursday in time for the opening ceremony.

The Philippine men’s basketball team, made up of PBA stars Junemar Fajardo, Robert Bolick, and siblings Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, is scheduled to arrive on Friday along with the women’s basketball squad and teams from boxing, muay, taekwondo, wrestling, and shooting.

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