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Stamina an issue for PH Rio pugs

The amateur boxers training to qualify for the Rio Olympics remain lacking in two major facets of winning: stamina and smarts.

Nonito Donaire Sr., tapped by the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP) to help in the quest for Olympic glory, told the Bulletin yesterday that “while there is no question about their courage and the willingness to fight,” they are wanting in energy and efficiency.

The ABAP signed up Donaire Sr. as its foreign coach and the father of world champion Nonito Jr. reveals that the Filipino punchers are still groping for form.

“Tatlong rounds lang madali silang mapagod,” said Donaire, who has spent more than three weeks with the national team in Baguio City getting ready for the Olympic qualifying event in Baku, Azerbaijan, that starts next week.

Vying in the Baku slugfest are flyweight Ian Clark Bautista, bantam Mario Fernandez and welter Felix Eumir Marcial.

Already assured of slots to the Rio Games scheduled Aug. 5 to 21 are light-fly Rogen Ladon and lightweight Charly Suarez, who met the Olympic standard during the Asia/Oceania qualifying last April in China.

One thing that gets going for the last-minute hopefuls is the fact that the top five in each weight class will gain berths to Rio.

But Donaire insists that as soon as they qualify, the ABAP should not waste time in sending all of them to the US for the final phase of the buildup.

“Dito kasi sila-sila lang ang nag-iisparing unlike sa Amerika na maraming lugar na pwede ko silang dalhin gaya sa Wild Card ni Freddie Roach (in Hollywood),” said Donaire from Baguio City.

All five fighters, Donaire maintains, are game and gutsy.

“The problem is that once they get hit, the reaction is for them to get back at the opponent. Hindi dapat ganun kasi ang resulta eh you’ll leave yourself open for counters,” he said.

“In boxing, it’s not all courage. Kailangan gamitan ng intelligence sa laban. Boxing’s not about getting hit but not getting hit.”

Still, Donaire believes there is still time to make changes in the Filipinos’ gameplan.

“There is still time to get better pero we have to act fast kasi kaunti na lang ang oras,” he said.