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ABAP mulls mixed team

Boxing coach Pat Gaspi said yesterday that it’s possible to have a mixture of upcoming boxers and veteran campaigners as the national team prepares for two important events this year.

The Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) will be sending teams to this year’s Southeast Asian Games as well as in the World Championships, but it’s still up in the air on who would comprise the teams.

“Kailangan pag-hiwalayin talaga, pwedeng paghaluin ang mga bata at beterano,” Gaspi said yesterday.

The schedule of the two events has been a problem for boxing officials and the coaching staff since both run in conflict with each other as the biennial SEA Games is set Aug. 19 to 31 n Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia while the World Championships is scheduled Aug. 25 to Nov. 3 in Hamburg, Germany.

The team is fresh from a tournament in the Kings’ Cup in Thailand where it took one bronze medal as welterweight Joel Bacho bested his opponent from Taipei in the consolation round. He lost in the semifinals against Sadriddin Akhmedov of Kazakhstan.

Gaspi, the longtime coach of the boxing team, nevertheless expressed optimism despite the team’s performance – taking into account the good things they learned in the tournament.

“So far maganda naman kasi unang salpok pa lang ng mga boxers panalo agad,” Gaspi said as the team arrived Monday morning. “Kaso nung second day na, hindi na tayo nanalo. Isang boxer natin ang lumusot; ang maganda tinalo niya taga-Cuba sa quarterfinals.”

“Kulang pa, kailangan pa na mas mag-pursigi tayo in our preparation. Hindi pa naman nagpi-peak ang mga boxers natin e, pero pagdating ng SEA Games nyan mas maganda na ipapakita.”

Aside from Bacho, the other five boxers that competed in Thailand are light flyweight Carlo Paalam, flyweight Ian Bautista, bantamweight Mario Fernandez, lightweight James Palicte and middleweight Eumir Marcial.

The next event for boxing in the Asian Championships – the qualifier for the world in Uzbekistan set this April 30. Gaspi said that the coaching staff is eyeing about six to seven boxers.