By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
A bigger task lies ahead for the Philippine boxing team after its successful campaign in the recent 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia.
Association of Boxing Alliances of the Phillippines (ABAP) secretary general Marcus Manalo said they are going to use the valuable lessons they learned from the biennial meet when they vie in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China late September.
For boxing, the Asian Games is a crucial tournament as it serves as one of the qualifiers for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
All but four women’s weight categories only offer two berths to the Olympiad. The women’s fly, (50kg), bantam (54kg), feather (57kg) and lightweight (60kg) classes stake four tickets to Paris.
“Asian Games is the big one,” said Manalo.
“(The SEAG) is a good step towards that direction, but obviously, there are a lot of areas of improvement with the team, and we’ll keep on working on that.”
It would be an uphill climb as far as PH boxing team’s performance history in the Asian Games is concerned. In the 2018 edition in Palembang, Indonesia, Filipino fighters Rogen Ladon went home with silver, while Paalam and Eumir Marcial bagged bronzes.
The PH boxing team also managed one silver and three bronzes in the 2014 edition in Incheon, South Korea, while Rey Saludar was the last Filipino fighter to win the Asian Games gold in the 2010 meet held in Guangzhou, China.
Manalo said their SEAG performance is a good indication heading towards the Asian Games as 10 of the 12 boxers they’d sent in the biennial meet went home with medals.
Four of those were golds courtesy of Tokyo Olympic silver winners Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio, Ian Clark Bautista and Paul Bascon.
“We’re satisfied with the outcome, especially some of the boxers that we brought here in the SEAG are first-timers,” Manalo said.
“But we always leave more room for improvements. Aside from the technical and the tactical side, marami rin tayong nakita that we could address to help improve our boxers’ performance,” Manalo said.