On cusp of overall crown
Dante Navarro (The Philippine Star) - December 9, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines —  On a day when the gold medals were dangled like carrots – all 91 of them – Team Philippines collared a campaign-best 23,

including eight late in the night, and moved three days away from crowning itself the new Southeast Asian Games champion.

Despite setbacks in shooting, men’s softball, rowing, cycling, karatedo, traditional boat race, waterski and wakeboarding, ice hockey and chess, the

resilient Filipino athletes struck back in rowing, women’s softball, baseball, waterski and wakeboard, soft tennis, rugby, skateboading, golf and billiards,

posted a heroic win in surfing, then rammed down the opposition in muay to highlight another prolific showing on Day 8 that surpassed its previous best

output of 22 in the first day of the 30th edition of the biennial meet.

Thanks to the foursome of Eric Cray, Kristina Knott, Anfernee Lopena and Eloiza Luzon, who capped the big day with a big win in 4x100m mixed relay

gold at the New Clark City Stadium in Capas, Tarlac late in the evening.

The Phl squad outwitted the rest of its rivals to win the gold in 41.67 seconds, beating Thailand (41.99) and Malaysia (42.40) on a well thought out plan to

field in Luzon as starter and Cray as anchor with the latter redeeming himself from a false start that disqualified him in the men’s 100m dash earlier by

chasing and storming past a Thai lady finisher at the finish.

That hiked Team Phl’s medal haul to 112-81-88 (gold-silver-bronze) as the hosts stayed way ahead of the pack in the battle for the overall crown with

Indonesia (65-61-77) still a distant second and Vietnam firming up its own bid with a 62-59-75 count.

After an 18-gold assault Saturday, Thailand settled for 15 for a 56-74-76 haul and remained at fourth followed by Singapore (43-33-48), Malaysia

(40-39-51), Myanmar (3-16-37), Cambodia (2-4-21), Brunei (1-5-6) and Laos (0-5-17) with Timor Lester still without a medal.

Team Phl put five fighters in muay thai finals but lost the first two before Ariel Lee Lampacan fought back from a first round deficit by taking the next two to

edge Thai Sakchai Chamchit by the slimmest of margins, 29-28, and deliver the 100th gold medal for the hosts at 4:45 p.m. at the Subic Bay Exhibition

and Convention Center.

Earlier, Erika Bomogao dropped a 28-29 decision to Thai Ketmanee Chasing in women’s 45kg final and Jenelyn Olsim yielded the 54kg women’s gold to

Vietnamese Ly Yen Bui, 27-30.

Rubilen Amit got back at 10-ball gold medal tormentor and compatriot Chezka Centeno by essaying a 7-3 victory in women’s 9-ball singles finals at the

Manila Hotel Tent in a 1-2 finish that made up for legend Bata Reyes and Francisco dela Cruz’s bronze medal efforts in 1-cushion carom.

Taekwondo captured three in kyorugi (sparring) with Pauline Lopez trouncing Cambodia’s Aliza Chhoeung, 12-4, for the women’s under 57kg gold;

Samuel Morrison overpowering Joshua Abdullah, 30-8, for the men’s under-80kg gold; and Dave Cea ripping Thai Nutthawee Klompong with a 10-point

assault in the first round to clinch the men’s under-74kg gold.

The Blu Girls earlier blanked the Indonesians, 8-0, to bag the women’s softball crown at The Villages in Pampanga before the national baseball team

routed Thailand, 15-2, for the country’s 99th gold while Philip Delarmino, also from muay, annexed the 101st with a 29-28 thriller over Vietnam’s Long

Doan Nguyen in the men’s 57kg final.

The clouters’ victory likewise made up for the men’s softball sorry 1-6 loss to Singapore in their gold medal match, also at The Villages.

Ryan Jakiri capped the muay fighters’ romp, that included a victory in a team event last Dec. 4, with a similar tough 10-9 win over Thai Norapat Khundam

for the men’s 63.5kg gold before the men’s rugby team crushed Malaysia, 19-0, at the Parade Grounds in Clark, Pampanga.

Rafael Jaime de Lange then subdued compatriot Raphael Pandeagua and Malaysia’s Hakimi Shahrafiz for the gold in Downhill, and Jericho Francisco Jr.

posted 42.20 points to outclass Jason Lijnzaat (33.33) of Indonesia and Thai Brian Upapong (26.33) to dominate the Park finals, both in skateboarding in

Maragondon, Cavite and Tagaytay City Extreme Sports Complex, respectively.

No victory, however, could be as gallant and dramatic as Roger Casugay’s in surfing in San Juan, La Union.

Seeing a fellow competitor being hit by big waves, Casugay dropped his medal bid and rescued Indonesian Arip Nurhidayat, who broke his leash, lost his

board and nearly drowned during the third round of the Longboard competition last Friday.

But organizers put their match on hold and when it was re-played early yesterday, Casugay made sure he’d save his best for last.

He defied the waves and all, scoring 14.50 points to nip compatriot Rogelio Esquivel Jr. (14.20) for the victory many labeled as a “heart of gold.”

Near misses in various front hardly dampened the other Pinoy bets’ spirit with Navy’s Jen Caballero overcoming a slow start and bagging another gold in r

owing’s lightweight singles sculls (women) with a 07:50.89 clocking in a follow-up to her doubles sculls victory with Joanie Delgaco Saturday.

Over in Tarlac, individual gold medalist Bianca Pagdanganan completed a two-gold sweep in women’s golf as she and Lois Kaye Go edged Malaysia’s

Natasha Oon and Ashley Lau, respectively, to rule the match event for the team gold at Luisita Golf and Country Club.

In La Union, Nilbie Blancada beat Thai Annissa Flynn, 7.65-6.35, to pocket the gold in women’s Shortboard Open to share surfing spotlight with Casugay

while the soft tennis tandem of Noelle Manalac and Camille Zoleta held off Thais Natchatjira Kerdsomboon and Naree Sawitre, 1-0, for the women’s

doubles gold at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.

Over at the DECA Clark Wakepark in Pampanga, Susan Larsson produced a 61-point output to clinch the gold in women’s wakeskate, beating Thai Thip

Penpayap (50.00) and Singapore’s Alysha Rizwan (39.33) with Jhondi Wallace taking the men’s gold with a 70.33-point effort, foiling Polapat

Romchatngoen, also of Thailand, (67.00) and fellow Filipino Christian Joson (64.33).  – With Joey Villar, John Bryan Ulanday, Olmin Leyba,

Rizanelle Beltran, Miguel La Torre and Marlowe Montenegro

ERIKA BOMOGAO RYAN JAKIRI CAPPED
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