Emphatic Triumph for team Philippines
Dante Navarro (The Philippine Star) - December 10, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — now 52 golds ahead of Thailand, the overall champ in 2013 and 2015 which finally unleashed its might in athletics, archery, boxing and karatedo to produce a Games-best 28 golds and jump from fourth to No. 2 with an 84-90-102 count.

But the hosts’ lead could be more than enough cushion to quash any final day uprising not only from Thailand but also from emerging power Vietnam (79-78-93), former titlist Indonesia (69-76-102) and defending champion Malaysia (51-52-67).

Singapore has 50-43-59 to remain at sixth followed by Cambodia (4-6-31), Myanmar (3-18-48), Brunei (2-5-6), Laos (0-5-23) with Timor Leste barely hitting a breakthrough with a silver-medal finish in taekwondo’s U-46kg behind Ana da Costa after winning two bronzes late Sunday.

With only 51 gold medals up for grabs on Day 10, the Philippines isn’t keen on tapering off with the entire nation bracing for a grand celebration not only on a successful staging of the 30th edition of the biennial meet but more so a triumphant campaign the way the Philippines did in the “Miracle of 2005.”

Phl officials have continued to downplay the Philippines’ looming victory with Philippine Sports Commission chair and chef de mission Butch Ramirez stressing there’s more than winning the overall championship the Pinoy athletes had long coveted and worked hard for.

“More than the medal haul, I am thankful for all the sacrifices and hard work that went behind pushing their chances for a shining moment of victory,” said Ramirez.

Carlo Paalam, Rogen Ladon, Josie Gabuco and James Palicte delivered the first four golds in boxing; Angelo Peña, Margarita Ochoa and Michael Roxas dispatched their respective rivals in jiujitsu at the Laus Group Event Center in Pampanga; and Yancy Kaibigan and Geylord Coveta took two of the three golds in windsurfing at the Lighthouse Marina Resort in Subic.

The husband-and-wife tandem of Paul and Rachelle dela Cruz sparked the day’s assault by shading Vietnam, 148-147, to snare the mixed team compound gold in archery at the Clark Parade Grounds in Clark before Jamie Lim secured the second karate gold with a 2-1 victory over Indonesia’s Ceyco Zefanya in the +61kg division before a cheering crowd at the World Trade Center.

Over at the Subic Yacht Club, the team of Joel Mejarito, Ridgely Balladares, Rubin Cruz Jr., Whok Dimapilis, Richly Magsanay and Edgar Villapana bested their rivals from Singapore to clinch the gold in sailing’s Mixed Keelboat Match Racing while Jason Baucas and Noel Norada pinned their rivals to win the 72kg and 63kg golds in Greco Roman of wrestling at the Angeles University Foundation gym in Pampanga.

Late in the night, Nesthy Petecio joined lifter Hidilyn Diaz and gymnast Carlos Yulo as the reigning Filipino world champs to win their first SEAG golds, outclassing Myanmar’s Ni New Oo, 5-0, in the women’s featherweight final.

Diaz, also an Olympic silver medalist, ruled the 55kg event in Day 2 while Yulo, who broke into national prominence with a victory in the World Artistics Gymnastics in Germany last October, won two golds and capped his productive campaign with five silver medals.

A classy Charly Suarez whipped Thai Khunatip Pidnuch, 5-0, to clinch the men’s lightweight gold before Felix Marcial literally capped the national boxing team’s campaign via a knockout, knocking Vietnam’s Cuong Manh Nguyen down twice with a barrage of punches en route to a Win by Absolute Victory verdict.

Over at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, Bryan Barbosa averted a gold-medal shutout in taekwondo, beating Indonesia’s Reinaldy Atmanegara, 26-10, in the men’s U-54kg final that made up for Rheza Aragon’s stinging 2-35 setback to solid Thai Panipak Wongpattanakit, 2-35, in their gold-medal bout in women’s under-49kg division.

Over at the NCC in Tarlac, Melvin Calano and Clinton Bautista pulled off a pair of surprise victories in centerpiece athletics with the former winning the men’s javelin gold with a heave of 72.86, and the latter winning the men’s 110m hurdles gold in a photo finish. It’s the country’s first win in men’s 110m hudles in the history of the games.

Earlier in the day, Sonny Wagdos added a bronze in the men’s 5000m while Eric Cray, Francis Medina, Clinton Bautista and Anfernee Lopena took a bronze in the men’s 4x100m.

In swimming, Luke Michael Gebbie and Jasmine Alkhaldi each picked up a bronze in the men’s and women’s 50m freestyle on the final day of competition at the NCC Aquatics Center.

At the Cuneta Astrodome, kickboxing produced one gold as Jerry Olmin beat Thai Sarayut Klinming, 3-0, in the men’s -69kg kick light.

World beater Dennis Orcollo added another gold for billiards as he subdued Kien The Do of Vietnam, 9-8, for the men’s 10-ball singles gold at the Manila Hotel Tent while the squash squad of Andrew Garcia, William Pelino and Reymark Begornia edged their Singapore counterparts, 2-1, for the men’s team gold at the Manila Polo Club.

But sorry setbacks also marred the hosts’ Day 9 campaign, none sadder than the national women’s team’s 20-25, 26-24, 15-25, 25-20, 14-16 loss to Indonesia in their battle for bronze at the Philsports Arena.

The Pinay spikers actually appeared headed to a come-from-behind win after snatching the fourth and sitting on a 12-9 cushion in the decider. But they cracked under pressure, enabling the Indonesians to string a number of hits and clinch the bronze to the disappointment of the big, roaring crowd bracing for a big Team Phl finish after dropping all its three games in the prelims in a four-team field. – Joey Villar, Olmin Leyba, John Bryan Ulanday, Miguel La Torre, Marlowe Montenegro and Rizanelle Beltran

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