A moment of truth

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Saturday, April 26, 2014


THE countdown begins as the 2014 Palarong Pambansa-bound Davao Region Athletic Association (Davraa) delegation leaves for Manila today via Philippine Airlines. The 493-member delegation of athletes, coaches and chaperons will board eight PAL flights starting at 4 a.m.

From Manila, commissioned passenger buses will take them to Sta. Cruz, Laguna where the weeklong sportfest for elementary and secondary athletes will take place on May 4 to 10.

Department of Education (DepEd) Region Pess chief Felipe Non, in a recent phone interview with Sun.Star Davao, said the athletes have trained longer than usual for this year's edition of the Palaro.

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"Mas ensayado ang mga atleta kasi mas hinabaan ang training nila ngayong taon. Nakatulong din ang magandang facilities ng sports complex dito sa Tagum City para sa preparasyon ng mga bata," Non said.

This year, most athletes underwent a 40 to 50 days of training in Tagum City since March. The region's dribblers, netters, booters, batters, swimmers and tracksters utilized the state-of-the-art Davao del Norte Sports and Tourism Complex while the rest of the athletes trained in other standard facilities of Tagum like the Rotary Park that houses the Volleydrome and a basketball court.

Non, however, said the longer training period in modern sports facilities will not in effect assure a better Palaro over-all finish for Davao Region.

Davao placed seventh in the 2011 staging in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte but slumped to 10th in 2012 in Lingayen, Pangasinan. The region dropped to its worst finish last year in Dumaguete City at 11th spot.

Non added, "We can't be certain for now if we improve or not since other regions have also prepared for the Palaro. We are going to Laguna one week ahead of the opening so our athletes can still familiarize themselves with the venue."

Davao only managed to clinch the elementary boys sipa gold medal.The region also bagged the secondary boys chess team and individual golds on top of salvaging three golds in athletics and two golds in arnis.

Brgy. Una boxing team manger Gene Rose Tecson, in a Facebook chat yesterday, said the Davraa boxers from Panabo and Davao del Norte may continue to struggle in the Palaro just like last year.

"The team's been suffering from lack of exposure. That's why it's so hard to say how they're going to perform," she said.

Davao's boxing team, which usually wins the over-all title in recent years, was limited to only two silvers and two bronzes in 2013. For this year, they've trained at the Brgy. Una Boxing Gym with the support of businessman Tonyboy Floirendo, District 2 Rep. Antonio F. Lagdameo, Jr. and Schools Division Supt. Maria Ines C. Asuncion of Deped Panabo City.
Tennis official Marivic Salvador, for her part, said the secondary boys tennis team has good chances with the presence of veteran junior players Jeleardo Amazona and Christian Fel Lopez and 2013 bronze medalist Jaffary Cariga. The secondary girls tennis team casts be-medaled Jenni Celine Dizon.

Secondary boys basketball coach Nestor "Tating" Sorrosa, of Holy Child College of Davao, is upbeat about their chances this year, saying: "Andam nami. Andam na ang mga bata para sa Palaro. Kanunay among praktis (We're ready. The boys are ready. We've been practicing hard for it)."

Secondary girls softball coach Willie Bayocboc downplayed a medal finish but aims an improved stint for her batters.

"Dili ko makasulti mag medal ta pero duna tay laban (I can't predict that we win a medal but we have a fighting chance)," Bayocboc said.

The extended days of training are a welcome development. But as the Palaro unfolds, it's the result that still matters. The Sta. Cruz joust will just test how good or how bad the athletes and coaches have prepared for it.

For Davao Region, reclaiming a fifth to seventh over-all finish position remains a tall order.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 27, 2014.

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