THE Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) announced on Tuesday that this year's Asian Games in China will feature 42 major events and 473 minor events, as the body is poised to support a lean but mean delegation in the quadrennial meet.

“Well we are eyeing a lean delegation for the Asian Games, as we factor in here the potential qualifiers and the funds of course for the Philippine team,” said POC spokesman Joey Romasanta at the sidelines of the weekly forum of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Tuesday.

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“Filipinos athletes are naturally talented, so we will try our best in the POC to support them,” he added.

Earlier, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman Harry Angping said he plans to form "an elite core of 50 athletes" in a bid to win eight to 10 gold medals in the 16th edition of the Asian Games scheduled November 12-27 in Guangzhou, the second city in China to host the games since Beijing in 1990.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) spokesman Joey Romasanta speaks about the country's preparation for the 16th Asian Games in Guanghzhou, China. (Virgil Lopez)

He added that the PSC will be meeting with the officials of the 40 national sports associations (NSA), their coaches and athletes to determine who can be considered as candidates to the national pool.

Romansanta, for his part, said the POC will have its board meeting next week to discuss the country's preparation for the Asian Games.

He said the 42 major events include 28 Olympic events and 12 non-Olympic classified events. The games will be held at 50 competition venues, 20 training venues, and 10 backup venues.

Organizers estimate that the competition will attract 14,000 players and accompanying officials, 65,000 international and Asian individual event sports technical officials, 10,000 registered media staff, and over 2,000 members of the macro Olympic Council of Asia from 45 participating countries.

Both the POC and the PSC believed that the 38 gold medalists in the recent Southeast Asian Games in Laos should be considered for the Asian cast of which the athletes will get allowance increases, undergo intensive training under first-rate foreign coaches and compete overseas in preparation for the Asian Games.

“I think the gold medalists should be included since they won the Southeast Asian titles. I think they have the right to represent the region,” Romasanta said.

Other athletes will be considered once they meet the Asian Games bronze-medal standard in their respective sport.

This early, Romasanta has named athletics, swimming, diving, dance sport, tennis, boxing, wushu and golf as among the medal prospects in Guangzhou.

“We should be ready for competition by October,” he added.

The PSC earlier said the national pool should be formed by February and start their intensive training by March.

RP should focus on other sports

In a related development, Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard bearer Gilbert Teodoro told media in a separate briefing Tuesday that the country should set its eyes on "winnable sports" rather than pouring funds on basketball, the country's most beloved sport of which the country stands no chance of defeating regional powerhouses Iran and China.

Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard bearer Gilbert Teodoro talks on the glitches of the Philippines' sports program. (Virgil Lopez)

“No offense to basketball addicts out there since I'm a fan also but I think it is high-time for us to focus our attention in other sports as well. We have to give chance for these winnable disciplines to flourish,” citing boxing, billiards and athletics as examples.

The recent Laos Southeast Asian Games saw athletics as the biggest contributor with seven gold, three silver, and four bronze medals, an improvement from the 5-7-9 medal tally in 2007 Thailand edition.

In the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, the Philippines won four gold medals, two in boxing and one each in billiards and wushu. The athletes also bagged four silvers and bronzes. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)