By Pigeon Lobien
BAGUIO CITY – Despite losing the regional over-all title to Laguna in the Luzon leg of the Batang Pinoy games last March in Ilagan, Isabela, Team Baguio is still confident of retaining the national crown next month in Palawan.
“(We are) very hopeful kami to defend our title with the help of straight-to-finals events,” Baguio City Sports Office coordinator Gaudencio Gonzales told Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Wednesday.
Straight to finals event include muay Thai, wrestling, judo, and wushu, which are virtual gold mines for Baguio in past campaigns, contributing to the city’s medal haul in the finals.
Other straight to finals event include billiards, cycling, and gymnastics.
“We may have lost the Luzon title but we are still looking forward to retaining the national title,” said Gonzales, who expects a strong challenge from Davao City and Iloilo City for the overall crown.
Some 260 athletes representing Baguio are booked to see action in the national finals in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on August 25 to 31.
Gonzales is confident that Baguio will be able to defend its crown despite lack of preparation in swimming with the Baguio swimming pool still under rehabilitation works.
“(It is) only swimming that is affected but other events do their training regularly,” Gonzales said.
He added the pool upgrade is expected to be finished by end of September.
Baguio City finished second in the Luzon leg after amassing 36 golds, 47 silvers and 60 bronzes, only two golds short of Laguna’s haul of 38 gold medals to go with 35 silvers and 36 bronzes.
Laguna made a splash at the pool with a chart-topper of 13 golds, 20 silvers, and 12 bronzes, aside from its five, two, two efforts in arnis, athletics, and badminton.
Baguio’s taekwondo jins and archers had the lion’s share with 10 and nine golds, respectively.
Quezon City was third with 24-19-11 in the tournament.
Batang Pinoy is organized by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) for 15-year-old and younger students and out-of-school youth.
Other finishers in the Luzon finals were: Pangasinan (23-24-26), Pasig City (22-24-27), Taguig City (19-17-28), Dasmarinas City, Cavite (18-10-15), Dagupan City, Pangasinan (16-12-11), Muntinlupa City (14-8-5) and Makati City (13-8-15).
Baguio City and the province of Benguet co-hosted last year’s national finals. (PNA)