MANILA, December 7, 2005 
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - Sufficient funds and adequate training were the key factors and the main ingredients in the Philippines’ winning the overall title in the 23rd Southeast Asian Games.

Mike Keon, the training director of the Filipino athletes who competed in the two-week event, said without these, Team Philippines couldn’t have done it despite the hometown advantage.

Keon said an "accountable" system in the training of the national athletes was another factor. "Having sufficient funds is number one. Without money, you cannot achieve your goals (in sports). Then comes adequate training," he said as the Philippines won its first overall title in the SEA Games."

And it’s a long time coming. I’m very happy for the athletes. And I’m very happy for our nation. It’s going to be a good Christmas for all of us," he added.

The biennial event, which drew close to 7,000 athletes and officials from 11 countries, came to a close Monday night with the Philippines winning a total of 113 gold, 86 silver and 92 bronze medals.

A total of 439 golds were staked in the two-week competition and the Philippines was in full control all throughout. In fact, no other country even came close to the hosts especially on the closing days.

Keon said the Philippines had waited so long before winning its first overall championship, since the country first competed in the regional sports meet in 1977.

"Now we’ve shown that we are capable of slugging it out with our Southeast Asian neighbors," said the former director of Project Gintong Alay. The final medal count, he said, didn’t really matter in the end.

What matters most, Keon said, is that the Philippines has finally won the overall title."

It (final medal tally) doesn’t really matter because so many of us made our own predictions on how many gold medals we can win. What matters now is that we are the SEA Games champion," he said in a phone interview.

Hundreds of Filipino athletes underwent training overseas this year, visiting countries like China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Italy, US, Hungary and even Indonesia. The Filipino athletes’ learned so much training under the watchful eyes of Olympic and world champions.

Keon said the same formula should be applied as the country prepares for its participation in the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

"Once you’ve tasted victory, you want to taste it again and again. And we should not lose this momentum," he said.

Box office hit SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson The Philippine Star 12/07/2005

The Araneta Coliseum is the place to be tomorrow as, judging from brisk ticket sales, a full house will be on hand to watch the Ateneo-La Salle Dream Games starting at 4 p.m.

This early, it’s safe to call the show a box-office hit. If you’re not in the Big Dome for the Dream Games, you’ll regret it.

Sports promoter Carlos (Bobong) Velez says courtside and lower box tickets are almost sold out and upper box tickets are quickly being gobbled up. He’s hanging on to a few tickets for last-minute calls from VIPs and his cell phone hasn’t stopped ringing for days as long-lost friends are suddenly resurfacing begging to score what’s available.

The timing for the Dream Games couldn’t be better. La Salle is reeling from a player eligibility scandal and Green Archer diehards are determined to cheer themselves hoarse tomorrow if only to show their spirit is far from dampened.

Ateneo lost thrice to La Salle this season and the Blue Eagles are itching for payback. Of course, the losses were reversed in the wake of La Salle’s admission of using an ineligible player but that isn’t the point. The Eagles want to prove something on the court and they’ve got a chance to upend the Archers not once but twice tomorrow.

Two games are slated in the bill. First, the Legends will take to the floor. Then, the All-Stars will play in the stellar attraction.

The Legends are made up of players from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. In the first quarter, only the ‘60s players will see action. The ‘70s players get their chance in the second period and the ‘80s players in the third. There will be no restrictions as to which Legends will play in the fourth.

La Salle’s Legends coach is Virgil Villavicencio assisted by Doy Liwag. The Archers’ ‘60s players are Alex Malixi, Perry Uy, Lito Tanjuatco, Luis Mirasol, Jojo Misa, Rep. Monico Puentevella and Dennis Gonzales. The ‘70s players are Lim Eng Beng, Alex Marquez, Kenneth Yap, Joel Uichico, Peter Ley, Tito Sagarbarria and Boy Manguera. The ‘80s players are Juancho Liwag, Gabby Velasco, Aldo Perez, Joseph Uichico, Wacky Garcia, Joey Sta. Maria and Mac Bautista.

Ateneo’s Legends coach is Olympian Felix Flores assisted by Fritz Gaston. The Eagles’ ‘60s players are Jimmy and Harry Alabanza, Chito Afable, Joey Campos, Ricky Palou, Tito Panlilio and Sonny Estacio. The ‘70s players are Jojo Gamboa, Chito Mistades, Joy Carpio, Boysie Henares, Bambi Sevilla, Mikko Rabat and Jim Tioseco. The ‘80s players are Nonoy Chuatico, Jet Nieto, Gene Afable, Eric Reyes, Raymund Morales, Jojo Lastimosa and Albert Mendoza.

Velez says the Legends are out to make a statement.

"I know they’ve been practicing," adds Velez. "I suppose nobody wants to be embarrassed. They’re eager to show their friends and families they’ve still got what it takes to play ball. Both teams are beefed up by former PBA players like Beng, Marquez, Carpio, Henares, Reyes and Lastimosa so a lot of pride is at stake. Then there’s the intriguing match-up between two UAAP Board members–Tanjuatco versus Palou."

As for the All-Stars, they’re just as serious in claiming bragging rights.

Ateneo will be coached by Chot Reyes assisted by Norman Black while La Salle will be piloted by Yeng Guiao assisted by Gee Abanilla.

Each lineup has eight PBA players and four from this season’s varsity.

The Blue Eagles are Wesley Gonzales, Enrico Villanueva, Rich Alvarez, Olsen Racela, Paolo Bugia, Vince Hizon, Jec Chia, Larry Fonacier, Japeth Aguilar, L. A. Tenorio, Doug Kramer and J. C. Intal.

The Archers are Ren-Ren Ritualo, Don Allado, Mark Telan, Mike Cortez, Jun Limpot, Willie Wilson, Mac Cuan, Mac-Mac Cardona, Rico Maierhofer, Joseph Yeo, Jun-Jun Cabatu and Ryan Arana.

Velez says the atmosphere will be festive even as the competition in both games is expected to be fierce.

"We’re bringing back the courtesy cheers where La Salle cheerleaders will do a cheer for Ateneo and vice-versa," notes Velez. "We expect serious competition but we also want supporters of both schools to appreciate the spirit of a healthy rivalry."

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