Carlo Biado

Champion athletes from billiards, athletics and jiujitsu banner the Philippine delegation arriving on Wednesday in time for the opening ceremony of the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.

World champions Efren “Bata” Reyes and Rubilen Amit, as well as reigning US 8-ball Open titlist Carlo Biado of billiards join forces with perennial SEA Games gold-medal contender Chezka Centeno are checking in prior to the opening rites set Thursday at 8 p.m. at the My Dinh Stadium at the Vietnamese capital.

Joining them are teams from athletics, bowling, cycling MTB, esports, and jiujitsu led by world-renowned grapplers Meggie Ochoa and Annie Ramirez.

“So far, so good. The arrivals have been going on smoothly. We are preparing for the opening ceremony and have been continuously providing assistance to our athletes,’’ said Philippine Sports Commissioner Ramon Fernandez, the country’s chef de mission to the Games.

Hurdler Clinton Bautista, javelin thrower Melvin Calano, decathlete Aries Toledo, marathoner Christine Hallasgo and heptathlete Sarah Dequinan are all upbeat about their chances to retain their SEAG gold medals before leaving Manila.

Joining the 50-man athletics team bound for the Vietnamese capital are medalists Mark Harry Diones, Janry Ubas, Francis Medina, Edgardo Alejan Jr., Anfernee Lopena, Eloiza Luzon, and Marestella Sunang.

Cyclists Ariana Dormitorio, John Derrick Farr and Eleazar Barba Jr. will also begin their hunt for medals as well as bowlers Merwin Tan, Lara Posadas, and Alexis Sy.

A total of 120 athletes, coaches, and officials are due to be billeted on Wednesday before athletes from archery, beach volleyball, dancesport, esports, sepak takraw settle on Thursday in time for the opening ceremony.

The PH men’s basketball team, made up of PBA stars Junemar Fajardo, Robert Bolick, and siblings Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena is scheduled to arrive Friday along with the women’s basketball squad and teams from boxing, muay, taekwondo, wrestling, and shooting.

Events that have already started are diving, kickboxing, handball, chess, football, futsal, pencak silat, kurash, rowing and kickboxing.

Competitions will take a break Thursday to give way to the opening ceremony before action takes off in badminton, basketball 3×3, fencing, golf, artistic gymnastics, petanque, sepak takraw, table tennis, tennis, indoor volleyball, wushu, bodybuilding and e-sports on Friday.

The Philippines seek to retain its overall championship title after harvesting 149 gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze medals in the previous edition that the country hosted in 2019.

Source: Manila Bulletin (