MANILA, November 5, 2005 
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - The names of all the athletes competing in the 23rd Southeast Asian Games are now in the hands of Philsoc officials. As of latest count, there are 2,641 names, which do not include those from Laos, Vietnam and host Philippines after they barely beat the deadline set midnight last Thursday.

Members of the SEA Games technical committee were still encoding the names of the athletes from the three countries as of yesterday afternoon.

While the Philippines is fielding the most number of athletes at close to 900, Thailand and Indonesia, perennial contenders in the SEA Games, are not too far behind.

Thailand has submitted 677 names and Indonesia 633, followed by Malaysia’s 411, Singapore’s 367, Myanmar’s 328, Brunei’s 108, Cambodia’s 84 and East Timor’s 33.

Once the encoding is done, the number is expected to reach close to 4,000. Vietnam, the reigning overall champion, is fielding around 700 athletes. Around 3,000 officials will also take part in the Nov. 27-Dec. 5 event, which the Philippines is hosting only for the third time in history, the first in 1981 and the last in 1991.

The 41 national sports associations have all submitted the names of the Filipino athletes with athletics, boxing, canoeing, softball and volleyball as the last to comply. Volleyball officials submitted their lineup at 9 p.m. Thursday or just three hours before the deadline.

Basketball being a doubtful starter was further stressed when it failed to submit a lineup.

GMA to athletes: Give your best By Abac Cordero - Unity through sports.

President Arroyo sent this message across last night as she exhorted the national athletes to give it their best in the 23rd SEA Games scheduled in the country Nov. 27-Dec. 5.

After a one-hour mass at the Philsports Arena, the President faced close to 500 athletes and officials in what could be their final meeting before the start of the 11-nation event.

"Sa panahong ito, tayo ay dapat mag-kaisa sa sports para mag-kaisa din tayo laban sa terorismo at kahirapan," said the President. "Malaki ang banta ng terorismo kaya mag-kaisa tayo sa pangangalaga ng mga bisita natin."

She mentioned the 1972 Munich Olympics where the exploits of American swimmer Mark Spitz, who won seven gold medals, were overshadowed by an incident of terrorism.

During her short speech, the President also thanked the volunteers and the different local government units involved in the Games. She also praised the private and business sectors for their support.

Joining the President on stage were sports officials led by Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez, Philippine Olympic Committee president Peping Cojuangco and Rep. Monico Puentevella.

The President was gifted with a white Philippine Team jacket, which she wore on her way out of the arena.

She was having a photo-op with athletes and officials when First Gentleman Mike Arroyo arrived.

The First Gentleman was introduced by Ramirez as the "patron of sports" and, like the President, was smiling most of the time.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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