The Philippines stands a good chance of winning the overall championship of the 30th Southeast Asian Games boxing competitions, but Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines Secretary-General Ed Picson would rather show guarded optimism than proclaim total dominance of the hosts.
"We're in a very good place, what with the hometown crowd behind us and our boxers peaking just in time," said Picson.
"All our boxers are capable of winning, but a lot of factors have to be considered," added the boxing official, who quashed the notion that the team will be shooting for a sweep of the 13 gold medals at stake.
"I won't stick my neck out and say anything close to that (sweep). You have to consider many things, like the luck of the draw or if you draw a dangerous opponent," said Picson.
Heading the boxing team are World Championship silver medalist and two-time SEA Games gold medalist Eumir Felix Marcial (middleweight, 75 kg), who claimed the second ranking in the world at the Championships held in Ekaterinburg, Russia in mid-September; and John Tupas-Marvin (light heavyweight, 81 kg), who will be shooting for his second straight SEA Games gold.
Also in the line up are Carlo Paalam (light flyweight, 49 kg), Rogen Ladon (flyweight, 52 kg), Ian Clark Bautista (bantamweight, 56 kg), Charly Suarez (lightweight, 60 kg), James Palicte (light welterweight, 64 kg) and Joel Bacho (welterweight, 69 kg).
In the distaff side will be Josie Gabuco (light flyweight, 48 kg), Irish Magno (flyweight, 48 kg), Aira Villegas (bantamweight, 54 kg), Nesthy Petecio (featherweight, 57 kg) and Risa Pasuit (lightweight, 60 kg).
While Picson has shown guarded optimism, he nevertheless is proud of ABAP's SEAG roster, the members of which will embark on a final training camp in the first week of November in Australia.
After that camp, Picson expects his team to peak just in time for the boxing competitions that begin Dec. 4 at the Philippine International Convention Center Forum in Manila.
"Our boxers are always a source of gold medals in the Philippines' SEA Games campaigns," Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William Ramirez said.
"We are banking on our pugilists once again to help lift our bid in the 30th edition of the Games. The PSC has always been supportive not only of our boxers but the rest of the national athletes. The agency did its best to provide them support for these Games and the next competitions they are scheduled to take part in." Ramirez said.
The Philippines won 2 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze medals as a runner-up to Thailand (2-3-1) during the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
"The Thais have always been a threat. They are our toughest competition. Fact is, they've removed several of their boxers. Majority of their boxers are relatively newbies, those who have been fighting for two to three years. But this (fielding a young team) could go either way," said Picson, who however, pointed to the fact that the Philippines placed no. 7 out of 78 nations in the AIBA World Boxing Championships, where the Thais failed to win a single medal.