It’s all over but the shouting


    REP. Bambol Tolentino may have been a little off in the number of gold medals he predicted Team Philippines would win in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

    It hardly matters, however, for the Philippine Olympic Committee president as he leads ecstatic sports officials celebrating the country’s impending coronation as overall champion.

    “Ang sabi ko, 112 (golds),” Tolentino reminded Malaya-Business Insight yesterday. “Kasi ang kuwenta namin, 56 (events) times two, 112. Safe na iyon, sabi ko.”

    That figure has been breached as early as last Sunday, when Team Philippines came up with its biggest single day production of 24 gold medals to hike its overall total to 113, way ahead of second-running Indonesia’s 65.

    Tolentino was admittedly a little peeved with that one extra gold, delivered by the Sibol squad in esports’ Mobile Legends just before midnight.

    “Sa akin importante iyun (112) kasi iyon ang hula ko,” he said.

    The disappointment will not last long, more so now that the PhilCycling chief’s prediction is the closest one to what should eventually be the final gold tally for the country.

    Tolentino can even now reveal that he arrived at the number even before he was elected to serve out the remaining term of resigned POC president Ricky Vargas late last June.

    “Last year naka-plot na sa akin. Last year, nu’ng ibigay sa akin kung ano’ng events ang isasali, I started arriving at the figure. Inilagay ko sa drawing board. Ako lahat nag-plot niyan, nu’ng 56 (events). Hindi pa ako (POC) president noon.”

    Meetings with the different national sports associations then took place, followed by the trimming down of the events and recommended athletes.

    “Binawasaan ko lahat ng mga isinubmit nila (NSAs),” related the congressman from Cavite.

    “Sabi ko, hindi pwede iyan, whether you like it or not. Wala na tayong bolahan. ‘Yung lima, dalawa lang kaya. Kaya nga finally, 56 times 2, figuratively.”

    Unknown to the NSAs and most other quarters, Tolentino formed his own teams to look into the national athletes of not only the Philippines but the other competing nations as well.

    “Prediction ko, based on (the athletes’) performance, latest results. Pati, nakailang panganak na ba, nag-asawa na ba ito? Humina na katawan nito. Lahat iyan naka-record sa akin, pati kalaban nila. Bawa’t bansa, iyung 11, may team ako roon.”

    This edition of the biennial meet is set to end tomorrow, but Tolentino is already setting his sights on next year’s Tokyo Olympics and the next SEA Games in Vietnam in 2021.

    “Lahat iyan dapat pag-planuhan, lahat iyan dapat paghandaan,” noted Tolentino. “So isang factor diyan funding pa rin. I might review and tap the private sector.”

    That should not be as difficult task as before.

    “Because of this result (overall title) siguro naman hindi na sila tatanggi,” he concluded.