THE PHILIPPINES will do their best to bring the overall championship in Hanoi, says Mr. Tolentino. — PIA

PHILIPPINE Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham Tolentino is optimistic the country will fight host Vietnam tooth and nail in the overall championship race in the Hanoi Southeast Asian (SEA) Games scheduled on May 12 to 23.

“Our athletes will fight and will do their best to bring the overall championship back to the country,” said Mr. Tolentino during Sunday’s SEA Games Council meeting in Hanoi where they also discussed the 2023 edition of the biennial event set in Cambodia.

The Filipinos will have a daunting task against the Vietnamese, who are fielding in the biggest number of athletes at 965 — 534 men and 431 women — with a daring forecast of a 140-gold, 77-silver and 71-bronze medal harvest in 40 calendared events.

The Nationals, for their part, will field in just 656, or just more than half the country sent when it hosted and lorded over the 2019 edition with a 149-117-121 haul.

Vietnam wound up at distant second with a 98-85-105 collection that same year.

But the two nations could end up switching positions in Hanoi this time.

The congressman from Tagaytay and PhilCycling chief remained confident though that the Filipinos would answer the call.

“Preparations by our athletes are peaking and the national sports associations, just like the POC, are focused at keeping the country’s strong position in the Games,” said Mr. Tolentino.