INCHEON, Korea—That one barrier before they hit gold.
Boxing coach Nolito Velasco sends four of his warriors with their shovels out for the semifinals of their events today, each of them determined to fuel a late rush for Team Philippines’ campaign in the 17th Asian Games after biker Daniel Caluag broke the country’s gold medal jinx on Wednesday.
Velasco, however, described this phase in their campaign as the toughest.
“Ito na lang ang kailangan namin na malampasan. Makatalon lang kami ng semifinals, pwede na naming isugal lahat para manalo lang kaming lahat ng ginto,”
Velasco said. “Kapag nakuha naming itong apat na laban na ito, all out na ito
para gold medals. Go for golds tayo.”
Charly Suarez will take on Alkasbeh Obada Mohammad of Jordan in the men’s lightweight semifinals, with the winner advancing to the gold medal match against the winner of the other semis pairing between Otgondalai Dorjnyambuu of Mongolia and Satoshi Shimbu of Japan.
Mario Fernandez takes on Jiawei Zhang of China in the semifinals of the men’s bantamweight division, with the winner going for the gold medal against the winner between Kairat Yeraliyev of Kazakhstan and Ham Sangmyeong of Korea.
Wilfredo Lopez faces Odai Riyad Aldel Alhindawi of Jordan in their men’s middleweight semis that will pit the winner against the survivor between Krishan Vikas of India and Zhanibek Alimkhanuly of Kazakhstan for the gold medal.
Mark Barriga, however, will be on guard when he goes for the kill against Shin Jonghun of Korea in their men’s lightflyweight semis battle. One of them will advance with a shot for the gold against the winner between Birzhan Zhakypov of Kazakhstan and Turat Osmonov of Kyrgystan.
The coaching staff’s focus was on Barriga as observers noted the couple of times the host nation’s boxers were favored over their more dominant rivals.
“Mahirap na, kailangan dito laban kung laban,” Velasco said.
“Handa naman ako. Sa boksing naman pantay lang ang laban sa ring,” Barriga said.
Velasco primed up his boxers by intensifying their early morning workouts.
“N’ung eliminations phase, 80 percent lang kami. Ngayong semis, 90 percent up. Pero kapag umabot na kami sa finals, 100 percent na kami dapat,” Velasco added.
The team dedicated the afternoon analyzing videos of their semis rivals. They planned to watch a movie at the Asiad Athletes’ Village together as a team early last night.
“We don’t have time to play. Mabigat ang assignments namin para sa bayan. Sabi ko sa kanila (boxers), sa Maynila na lang sila mag-shopping,” Velasco said.