Jul 15, 2020

A Spectacle Entering the New Decade in ASEAN Sports

It seems like the organizers of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games more than made up for early mishaps in hotel bookings, athletes’ food, transportation and other logistical matters that shaped up the early stages of the 30th biennial meet with a grandstanding opening day parade and event last Sunday, November 30, 2019 at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.

It was a moment to remember, a flashing end to the decade and a strong way to enter a new chapter for sports in our region in 2020.

We have raised the bar high in opening regional sports meets, a bar that I’m certain will be the benchmark of future ASEAN meets.  From the parade of players and muses, cultural performance, the rendition of the “We Win as One” hymn and up to the lighting of the torch led by our very own boxing legend Sen. Manny Pacquiao punctuated by the amazing fireworks that lit the Bulacan skyline is nothing short of breathtaking.

It was an awesome prelude to the opening of all other major sports disciplines and if our opening is targeted to set the stage well for our athletes to be motivated to win them all, it is highly effective as we are currently leading the pack on gold medal hauls with 47 as of this writing with major wins in wushu and dancesport.

Even if we have this early lead, I would caution our contingent from being overconfident and complacent because we all know that the likes of Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam are world beaters in various fields.  Let’s see if our very own Philippine contingent bags the overall medal haul this time around, Palawan!

Show them the love. Watch the games!

Gilas Pilipinas 

In the nation’s favorite sport, how is our very own Gilas team preparing for the tourney?  So serious is head coach Time Cone that he opted to skip the opening ceremonies to give his team more practice sessions Sunday.  This time is not a blend of amateur and professional players.  It’s a crew built around Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) players who are in top shape but lack the essential time to practice together having been selected from various teams.

The PBA only took a short break from the third conference playoffs to give way to the SEA Games and the Gilas team obviously need the much needed time to work out Cone’s patented set offense.

The core unit led by Junemar Fajardo, Japheth Aguilar, LA Tenorio, Stanley Pringle, Troy Rosario, and Christian Standhardinger is already a force to reckon with on paper but we already know by now that putting an all-star cast of the best professional players may not necessarily yield the gold medal learning from the Team USA experience in the recent World Cup.

The rise of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) also taught our neighboring countries the essentials to be competitive in the world stage.  We can no longer call Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand or Singapore pushovers.  The region has caught up with us and we are partly to blame because we have set such a high standard in basketball in the area that others are forced to upgrade and retool, even to the point of recruiting foreign players and coaches, Filipinos included.

The favorites as they are, I am certain Cone and the Gilas crew will pull all stops not to disappoint.  Laban Pilipinas!

Tidbits

Conduit Philippines, a Business Process Outsourcing Company yours truly serves, witnessed the NetBall games last week in Sta. Rosa, Laguna and even if our very own team the Philippines got eliminated from the playoff round, we still are mighty proud of how the girl’s team represented the flag. Kudos and thank you also to one of the tourney hosts, Mr. Joseph Gallardo, and his colleague Lyn Fadul for accommodating us.  It was quite an experience watching the games live!  Maraming Salamat po!

(The writer is a senior leader in the Business Process Outsourcing industry managing Philippine countryside operations)

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