The Philippine contingent led by PSC Commissioner Mon Fernandez (Manila Bulletin photo courtesy)
HANOI – For the third straight day, Filipino athletes struggled in their quest for the gold on Thursday, leaving the Philippines locked in a tight race with Singapore for fourth overall in the 31st Southeast Asian Games here.
The men’s bowling team of Merwin Tan, Christian Dychangco, Ivan Malig and Patrick Nuqui started the day on an auspicious note, adding the team-of-4 gold to the men’s singles triumph of Tan last Monday.
As the day wore on, however, Pinoy athletes stayed unusually silent, until judoka Rena Furukawa Lanoy edged Chu Myat Noe Wai of Myanmar 1-0 in the finals of the women’s minus 57kg class at the Hoai Duc Gymnasium.
The twin gold raised the haul of Team Philippines, backed by the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee, to 40, counting the victory of the women’s Wild Rift squad late Wednesday, the first esports gold for the country here.
But it was not enough to prevent Indonesia from dislodging the Philippines at third and left the Filipinos, who were limited to four golds last Tuesday and three last Wednesday, battling for fourth against the Singaporeans.
As Vietnam steamed full ahead to the overall title with a harvest of 150-90-82 at press time, Thailand, once jostling with the Philippines for the second, improved to 62-65-95 with Indonesia moving up to third with a 42-60-56 harvest.
The Filipinos, aside from 40 gold medals, also had 57 silver and 78 bronze medals, their silver medal production spelling the difference in the fight for fourth. Singapore had a 40-41-53 tally for fifth.
“Masayang-masaya po sa second gold. Hindi namin inaasahang mananalo, basta inin-joy lang namin ang game,” said Tan, a former junior bowler competing in his third SEA Games.
“Between team and individual gold medal, mas gusto ko ‘yung team kasi kami lahat mag-uuwi ng medalya,” added Tan, who rolled a total of 1292 last Monday, propped up by a six-bagger in the sixth game where he scored 249.
Expected to lift up the sagging Pinoy spirits here is Olympic champion Hidilyn Diaz, who is favored to lift the 55kg weightlifting crown Friday against six pretenders.
In women’s basketball, the Gilas women’s squad rolled to its third straight victory, whipping Vietnam 118-87 behind the 25 points of Khate Castillo and moving within two more wins of clinching the gold.
Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Eumir Marcial and boxing teammate Rogen Ladon also triumphed to reach the finals.
Marcial, 26, the favored bet in the middleweight class, gave 21-year-old Peerapat Yeasungnoen of Thailand a beating of a lifetime, scoring a second-round RSC (referee-stopped-contest) win at the Bac Ninh Stadium.
Marcial, who won his second professional fight last April 9 despite being knocked down four times, fights Timor Leste’s Delio Anzaqeci Mouzinho in the gold medal bout on Sunday.
Ladon, of Bago City, Negros Occidental, barely beat Thanarat Saengphet of Thailand, prevailing in a split decision to move to the finals of the men’s flyweight category.
A three-time SEA Games champion, Marcial delivered heavy combinations to the body and head of Yeasungnoen, urging the referee to stop the fight at the 1:54 mark of the second round.
“I engaged him because I knew I can take his punches so I focused on counterpunching,” said Marcial, who added he didn’t spar during their training camp in Thailand to avoid being scouted by his opponents.
One of the eight silver medals won by the country came from marathoner Christine Hallasgo, who gamely battled cramps but still lost her crown to Indonesian Odekta Naibaho Elvina, who ruled the lung-busting race in 2:55.280.
Hallasgo, who triumphed back home in 2019, clocked 2:56.07 for second, with Vietnam’s Ngoc Hoa Hoang Thi third in 2:57.350.
“Hindi man po gold pero malaking bagay na sa akin na na-represent ko ang Pilipinas. Kasi nagka-pandemic po, pagkatapos ng 2019 Milo marathon finals, eto napo ‘yung first event ko na nasalihan. Mahaba-haba po talaga ‘yung time na walang mga takbo tapos ‘yung pag-eensayo naapektuhan,” said Hallasgo, adding she returned to training only last October.
Aside from Hallasgo, also winning silver medals were Grandmaster Darwin Laylo and International Master Paulo Bersamina in rapid chess; archer Jennifer Chan and Paul Marton dela Cruz in the mixed team competition; judokas Keisei Nakano and John Viron Ferrer, and wrestlers Roni Tubog, Alvin Lobreguito, and Jhonny Morte.
Another judoka, Megui Kurayoshi, settled for the bronze, along with Janella Mae Frayna and Antoinette San Diego in chess, the team of Paul dela Cruz, Flor Matan and Johan Olano in archery’s men’s team competition, weightlifter Rosegie Ramos, taekwondo’s Israel Cesar Cantos, karatedos Ivan Agustin, the kata team of Nicole Dantes, Rebecca Torres, and Sarah Pangilinan, and Ramon Misu. (er/ai/mtvn)