Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino has pledged to persist in advocating for the inclusion of Calvin Abueva, Terrence Romeo, Mo Tautuaa, and Jason Perkins on the men’s 5-on-5 basketball team for the 19th Asian Games.
“We will push for it a thousand times, we’ll push for it every time they deny it,” stated Tolentino after the flag-raising ceremony for the country at the Asian Games Village (Athletes Village) on Thursday afternoon.
The POC has been striving to secure the inclusion of these four Philippine Basketball Association players in the final 12 of Gilas Pilipinas for the 5×5 competition, which begins Wednesday with the Philippines facing Bahrain as their first assignment in Group C.
“We’ll keep pushing for it every minute, even if they deny it,” he emphasized.
The inclusion of these four players was initially discussed in the delegation registration meeting, which was supposed to conclude within a day last Sunday. However, the procedure extended over two days, leading up to Saturday’s opening ceremony.
The POC also sought the inclusion of three athletes in fencing and one each in gymnastics and golf as late replacements, but these requests were firmly denied by the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee (HAGOC). The athletes in question were fencers Alexa Lareabal, Hae Abella, and Lee Ergina, golfer Chanelle Avaricio, and gymnast Levi Jung-Ruivivar.
Tolentino led the flag-raising ceremony, formally welcoming the Philippine delegation to Hangzhou, which is the third city in China to host the Asian Games after Beijing in 1990 and Guangzhou in 2010.
“This marks the beginning of the warm hosting and showcasing of the Hangzhou Asian Games,” stated Tolentino, who was joined by Philippine chess legend Grandmaster Eugene Torre and ice-skating Head and Deputy Chef de Mission Nikki Cheng, representing Chef de Mission Rep. Richard Gomez, who is expected to arrive in Hangzhou on Friday. Also present was kickboxing head Atty. Wharton Chan.
“We are praying for fair sports, and we strongly hope to separate all other issues from the Games,” he said. “Geopolitics has no place in sport. Sports unite people.”