OCTOBER 24, 2006
(STAR) By Joey Villar - A total of 229 athletes, 94 team officials, 10 medical personnel, 15 administrative staff and three chef de mission officers make up the 351-man Team Philippines leaving for Doha, Qatar on different days to compete in the 15th Asian Games.

But baseball, which had to downsize its number from 26 to 22 to save money and make it to the Asiad roster, remains unsure of its participation since it has yet to find a corporate sponsor to finance its Doha trip.

Hector Navasero, who heads the Philippine Amateur Baseball Association, said he is still trying to tap some sponsors not only from the private sector but also from the government.

"So far, the PABA could only finance five members out of the 22. We’re still looking for sponsors to finance the rest," said Navasero.

Baseball, which won a gold medal in the 2005 Manila Southeast Asian Games, is the only one competing in the team event in Doha after softball and water polo begged off due to budgetary problems.

Meanwhile, Philippine Sports Commission chairman William "Butch" Ramirez, the chef de mission, and deputies Ritchie Garcia and Mario Tanchanco, will head Team Philippines.

Garcia will head the advance party departing on Nov. 16 along with administrative officials Nestor Ilagan and Moying Martelino, and Asiad secretariat’s Carlos Mari Roque while Ramirez will leave on Nov. 28.

The first wave of athletes will depart on Nov. 26.

A huge 87-member group will leave on Nov. 28, headed by Ramirez, and 16 from shooting and 13 from swimming, including 2005 Manila SEAG triple gold medal winner Miguel Molina.

Others leaving on the same day are beach volley (6), boxing (12), chess (5), gymnastics (3), judo (8), sepak takraw (11), soft tennis (9) and weightlifting (3).

Teams from bowling (15), cycling (10) and rowing (5) are leaving next on Nov. 29 while snookers and billiards (15) and lawn tennis (9) depart on Nov. 30.

Snookers and billiards, which scooped eight gold medals in the 2005 Manila SEAG, will not have the likes of Efren "Bata" Reyes, Francisco "Django" Bustamante or Alex "The Lion" Pagulayan, who are all scheduled to play in the IPT King of the Hill slated in the same week of the Asiad.

Only Leonardo "Dodong" Andam is the most notable in the team that also includes up-and-coming stars Antonio "Gaga" Gabica and 2006 RP Open third placer Jeffrey de Luna.

On Dec. 1, sailing (6) will leave for Doha followed by taekwondo (16), athletics (14) and triathlon (6) on Dec. 3 and bodybuilding (4), golf (11), wrestling (9), archery (11), cycling (9) and fencing (16) on Dec. 5. Diving (8), canoe-kayak (6), equestrian (12), squash (3) and wushu (12) depart on Dec. 7 while an 11-man karatedo squad will be the last team to leave on Dec. 8.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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