THE highly touted Association for the Advancement of Karatedo (AAK) Davao Team is ready to defend its overall title in the All-Mindanao Championship, which kicks off Sunday at the Malaybalay National High School in Bukidnon.

AAK Davao chief Rommel Tan, gracing the regular Davao Sportswriters Association (DSA) Forum at the Tower Inn yesterday, said they will field five players in the seniors 18-above players and 15 karatekas in the kids 15-below category.

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"Most of them will see action in kumite and kata events of their respective age-groups. We are confident of topping this year's competition but I can't really predict how many gold medals we will be bringing home this time," Tan said.

Tan said they have the edge over other teams considering the experience of his players in regional, national and international meets.

His five-member TKS Petron-AAK Davao team hauled a total of four golds, two silvers and abronze in the just-concluded AAK Super Karate Kids Age-Group Championships at the SM City North Edsa, Quezon City.

"I wouldn't have wanted those Super Karate Kid medalists to play in Bukidnon because I want them to focus on the Karate-do Gojukai Singapore 30th Anniversary Asia-Pacific Open Championship on Sept. 11. My fear was that they might get injured in the Mindanao championships. But the kids are just too eager to compete in every tournament so I gave in thinking that it will also do them good to have more exposures," Tan said.

Tan was referring to boys 12-above twin gold medalist Jhon Albert Albarico, boys 8-9 gold medalist Sebastian Regis, girls 8-9 kumite gold medalist OOna Ysabelle Barnes, girls 12-above double silver medalist Danielle Barnes and boys 8-9 kumite bronze medalist Christian Gil Ternate.

Completing the roster are Alena Yasie Regis, Jeofrey Albarico, Pretie Joy Goc-Ong, Chary Grace Labog, Homer and Herma Panal, Kassandra Barnes, Michelle Castillo, Abe Janica Moratin, Noemi Gella, Claudia and Carl Villaluna, Al Stephen Magalao, Arthur Lao III, Marymnel Papa and Craig Tarnate.

Teams from Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, Pagadian, General Santos City, Iligan and Maraw are also expected to see action in the one-day annual karatefest.