Mendoza: We can’t afford to lose

Al Mendoza

TUMBANG preso. Luksong tinik. Patintero. Taguan pung. Sipa. Bahay bahayan. Labanang gagamba.

Have these games been included in the 30th SEA Games that will open today amid an explosion of colors, sounds and festivities at the 50,000 seat Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan?

If yes, no worries.

The said games are intrinsically Filipino, automatically making them eligible for inclusion in the 11-nation, biennial Games.

They can be challenged by our foes who might not play those games in their countries, arguing that the country will have an undue advantage.

But the Philippines will be absolved in the end as the Games’ format allows the host country to select games it so wishes to play—provided at least three (or is it four now?) countries will join us in said chosen events.

In previous SEA Games editions not hosted by the Philippines, such sports where we are strong, like billiards, bowling, arnis and dancesports, had been scrapped.

We cried foul then but to no avail.

The host country’s wishes prevail all the time.

That is why after we emerged overall champion the last time we hosted it in 2005, our standing plummeted to record lows.

We finished sixth numerous times after 2005 and a worst seventh spot in one edition. Our best placing after that was fifth.

Thus, with us having the luxury now of hosting the region’s version of the Olympic Games, we should not miss retaking the overall title.

In arnis alone are 20 golds at stake. If we don’t win them all, that’d be frustrating.

There are 13 golds in dancesports and a sweep is not far-fetched.

We are world-rated in billiards and the return to form of many-time world champion Bata Reyes should net us an avalanche of gold here.

Many more events in the 56-sports calendar staking a total of 530 gold medals make us heavy favorites.

With the superior advantage that had been given us practically on a silver platter, it’d be a shame if we bungle the chance.

Lolo Digong might raise hell.