Basketball-loving Filipinos are so focused on the Fiba World Cup in August, hardly anybody is paying attention to the 17th Asian Games, which is scheduled only five days after the closing of the World Cup.
The Fiba tournament will be held in Spain from Aug. 30 to Sept. 14, while the Asian Games will run for 16 days, starting Sept. 19 and ending on Oct. 4.
Considered the showcase of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the 17th Asian Games will be staged in Incheon, South Korea, with 45 nations participating in 437 events.
Gilas Pilipinas is participating in both the World Cup and the Incheon Asiad.
And since there will only be a number of days between the two events for the men’s basketball team to prepare—at most two weeks if Gilas does not advance to the crucial rounds of the World Cup—Gilas head coach Chot Reyes said it will be both tiring and impractical for the team to return to the Philippines from Spain, and then leave for South Korea again after a few days.
“We plan to go straight to Incheon from Spain so we can acclimatize early and familiarize ourselves with the venue,” Reyes said during a recent press conference.
Nobody asked him about his game plan for the Asiad. This is the third time that the Asiad is being held in South Korea. The first one was staged in Seoul in 1986 and the second in Busan in 2002.
For this year, South Korea built 13 new stadiums for the Asiad, for a total of 49 venues.
* * *
Michael Christian Martinez, the lone full-blooded Filipino competing in the Sochi Winter Olympics, started skating when he was only 8 years old.
He discovered the sport, so to speak, while window-shopping at an SM mall where he passed by an ice skating rink and saw some skaters there.
“I was kind of fascinated with the sport right from the start. I watched the skaters and said to myself I could do what they were doing. That’s how everything started,” recounted Martinez, now 17.
Six or seven years after he learned to skate, Martinez started to compete internationally where he did very well and even bagged medals.
We saw Martinez’s qualifying number on YouTube, which he performed to the tune of “Malaguena.”
Filipinos will have the chance to watch him do the same number on the eve of Valentine’s Day when he competes in the eliminations and aims for one of 24 finals slots.