FROM a lean estimate of 50 in January, the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) changes tune and is looking at the possibility of sending between 200-220 athletes for the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China this November.

Philippine Olympic Committee spokesman Joey Romasanta said around 200 athletes might be included in the list of the 16th Asian Games participants (Virgil Lopez)

Joey Romasanta, POC spokesman and chief of mission to the Asian Games, told Sun.Star that they will decide the final composition of the RP team after the executive board meeting of the POC next week.

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“Perhaps after August 11, we will know the final list of those who will saw action in the Asian Games. We are looking at around 200 to 220 athletes. We’ll see,” he said at the sidelines of the send off party for the country’s representatives in the Youth Olympic Games Friday night.

Romasanta said the dragon boat team command the biggest number of athletes with 25 each in the men’s and women’s while the Smart Gilas developmental squad, the country’s men’s basketball team in the 15th Asiad has more than 13 members.

There are also representatives from boxing, billiards and snooker, athletics, chess, diving, dance sports, cycling, lawn tennis, karate, swimming, taekwondo, wrestling and wushu, among others.

“These athletes are the ones who qualified under our stringent process which weighs heavily on their performance in international competitions like the Asian Games,” said Romasanta.

The women’s basketball team was included in the list of participants but the endorsement may be withdrawn if they deliver a sub-par performance in the Southeast Asian Basketball Association Women’s Championship in October.

Earlier, coach Heidi Ong said the team must only settle for the gold medal if they want to don the national colors, unlike their male counterparts who usually book a trip to the Asian Games by virtue of being regional kings.

Romasanta also related that athletics, swimming, diving, dance sport, tennis, boxing, and wushu are among the medal prospects in Guangzhou.

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.

The quadrennial meet is slated from November 12-27 wherein the Philippines will participate in 35 out of 42 sporting events.

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 silver and bronze medals each.

The country’s best Asian Games performance came in the second edition held here in 1954 with 14 gold medals, second only to Japan’s 38. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)