Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipina's President Al Panlilio worked in the spotlight and could only smile as he studied the final list of the team's gold medalists at the 30th Games in Southeast Asia.
And that wasn't just because of the basketball game.
Panlilio is also president of the MVP Sports Foundation (MVPSF), and the athletes who supported the group were among those who contributed to the medal frenzy of the country that awarded the SEA Games overall championship with 149 gold medals.
"We are proud to have contributed to the success of selected Filipino athletes at the Southeast Asian Games," said Panlilio. But like the other sports officials, Panlilio said the SEA Games milestone was just the beginning.
"We are proud of the performance of all Filipino athletes, but we cannot stop here." We will use this momentum to get even more Filipinos to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, ”he said.
So far, they are on the right path. Athletes supported by the MVPSF won 35 gold medals. But not only the number is impressive, but also the list of athletes.
"The best thing about 35 gold medals out of 78 athletes' medals that MVPSF supported is that many of our champions are strong Olympic hopefuls," said Ryan Gregorio, MD of MVPSF.
"We are proud of every athlete we support and hope for those who can fly our flag in Tokyo," he added.
Carlos Yulo, who won two gold and five silver medals at the SEA Games, shot to the top of the spectrum when it came to breaking the country's long and unsuccessful search for an Olympic victory. Also supported by the foundation are Rio Olymics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, who led weight lifting women with the 55-kilogram gold, and skateboarder Margielyn Didal, who won two SEA Games events.
The country's boxers also rely heavily on Olympic berths – and potential Olympic glory – and win seven gold medals in the biennial encounter to boost momentum in qualifying tournaments abroad. The foundation also supports boxing, golf, cycling and taekwondo – all gold producers at the SEA Games.
"The MVP Sports Foundation will not stop supporting the Filipino athlete and the Philippines' relentless quest for an Olympic gold medal," said Panlilio.
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