MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte, Philippines – The road back to the national team is getting closer and closer for Victorio Saludar III.
Flashing the fighting brilliance that he had before breaking his hand and getting dismissed from the national team due to disciplinary issues, Saludar made short work of host Maasin City’s Michael Kaibigan to top the elite light flyweight division of the PLDT-ABAP National Championships Friday night at the Maasin City Gym.
It was an impressive win for the 22-year-old Saludar, a 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games bronze medalist, as he needed less than half a minute to prompt the ref to stop his demolition of Kaibigan.
Saludar overwhelmed the home bet to the disappointment of the crowd including host Mayor Maloney Samaco.
“I want to earn my old slot in the national team,” said Saludar, a proud son of Polomoloc, South Cotabato.
Saludar gained the nod of national coaches Ronald Chavez and Elias Recaido who promised to recommend the fighter for re-inclusion in the national pool.
ABAP executive director Ed Picson, however, said it’s the call of the ABAP board.
“It’s up to the board really, we’ll see,” Picson told The STAR.
Saludar was actually the country’s biggest Olympic hope for the 2012 London Games but he injured his left hand and eventually underwent an operation. Picson said absenteeism later forced ABAP to dismiss Saludar.
He appears to be on his way back.
Meanwhile, Davao del Norte emerged the best performing team as it snared a whopping seven gold medals including Saludar’s at the close of the event sponsored by PLDT and Smart.
Jolan Bunghanoy, Quirino Mellejor Jr., Risty Apas, Jay Ar Inson, Gabriel Rabicyle and Michael John Bahena delivered the other triumphs for the Panabo-based stable.
Bunghanoy downed Cabanatuan’s Genesis Libranza in the elite light fly, Mellejor trounced Cebu’s Reoxyl Tabogon in the elite bantam, Apas bested Maasin’s Daryl Ramos in the elite light and Inson outclassed Maasin’s Richard Bacala in the elite light welter.