Fernandez rallies Phl bets

HANOI, Vietnam – National team chef de mission Ramon Fernandez Friday rallied the country’s remaining campaigners in the 31st Vietnam SEA Games, stressing that wresting back third overall was still possible if they all work hard together with three days to go in the regional sports showcase.,“If we all work hard as one, we will win as one. This is not the time for us to be discouraged since reclaiming No. 3 is still very much possible. Our athletes can do it with God’s help,” Fernandez exhorted the standard-bearers, echoing the successful slogan of Team Philippines in 2019. After staying in third place for several days at No. 3 in the overall medal tally for several days, the country had slipped to the fifth spot as of Wednesday night with 40 gold, 57 silver, and 78 bronze medals.,The Filipinos, however, were still within striking distance of third-running Indonesia (42-61-57) and just one gold less than fourth placer Singapore (41-41-43), with host Vietnam with a vise-like grip of the top spot (151-91-83)and Thailand a distant second (62-67-95).,“These last three days will be critical. But having seen our athletes perform for the past few days, I am very sure our remaining national athletes will give their all-out effort since they will not want their flag and country down,” the Phl point man said. A commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission, Fernández said there were still a lot of sports where the country can draw medals from, citing boxing, weightlifting, esports, shooting, judo, vovinam, and basketball as among those where the Phl bets would be in the thick of the fight. “In weightlifting alone with Tokyo Olympic gold medalist Hidylin Diaz as the spearhead, we could bring home as many as four to five medals,” he noted.,Diaz, who has been training in Ho Chi Minh (formerly Saigon)since May 10 with her support staff, was set to retain her women’s 55-kilogram crown Friday while fellow Tokyo Olympian Elreen Ann Ando, Vanessa Sarno, and Kristel Macrohon were tipped to rule their respective weight classes, he added. Sibol, the national esports squad, was also out to defend its Mobile Legends Bangbang title the same day, according to Fernandez, who has been looking after the needs of the Philippine contingent bankrolled by the PSC since arriving on May 1 in the Vietnamese capital.,Despite the limited resources caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the government sports agency bankrolled the Philippine contingent to the tune of P232 million, covering the plane fare, uniforms, equipment, board and lodging, and allowances, among others. They include the 641 Filipino athletes seeing action in 38of 40 disciplines in the biennial meet that Vietnam is hosting for the second time.