By Nick Giongco

Select members of the boxing team won’t be home for Christmas.

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National boxers Eumir Felix Marcial, left, and Carlo Paalam arrive in Jakarta yesterday to compete in the 18th Asian Games. (Nick Giongco)

And the New Year as well.

The Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (Abap) is going to quarter them in Baguio City during the holidays to boost the country’s chances of sending as many qualifiers to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“We’ve been discussing about this matter and it is very likely that they won’t be spending the holidays with their loved ones,” said national team coach Pat Gaspi on Wednesday.

The Olympic qualifying for the Asia-Pacific region takes place Feb. 3-14 in Wuhan, China, and Gaspi believes giving the boxers a break during Christmastime will severely affect the preparations.

“The (Asia-Pacific) qualifiers is going to be held early and we can’t afford to miss out on this opportunity to qualify,” said Gaspi.

After the 30th Southeast Asian Games—taking place from Nov. 30-Dec. 11—the Abap will allow the boxers to take a brief break.

Gaspi said everyone will have to be reporting back for camp before Christmas.

As much as six fighters are being eyed by the Abap to make the Olympic grade in Wuhan.

Other continental qualifying events will likewise be held in the first four months in Argentina for the Americas, England (Europe) and Senegal ((Africa).

Those who will not qualify in the continental will get their last chance when Paris stages the World Qualification in May.

The Tokyo Olympics will happen in August.

In the 2016 Rio Olympics, only two boxers—lightfly Rogen Ladon and lightweight Charly Suarez—made it but they were eliminated early.

This new batch of Olympic aspirants includes rising stars in fly Carlo Paalam and 2019 world championships middleweight silver medalist Eumir Marcial.

The Philippines now has two qualifiers in the 2020 Olympics in pole vaulter EJ Obiena and gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo.

Throughout its close to 100 years of Olympic participation, the Philippines has never won an Olympic gold medal with boxing accounting for two of three silver medals.

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