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Sports

Bowlers, judoka push Philippines medal drive

Abac Cordero - The Philippine Star
Bowlers, judoka push Philippines medal drive
Bowlers Merwin Tan, Christian Dychangco, Ivan Malig and Patrick Nuqui proudly show their medals during the awarding ceremony where they are joined by Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino.
STAR / File

HANOI – Team Philippines stayed in the hunt for a sought-after podium finish in the 31st Southeast Asian Games with a pair of gold and a handful of silver medals in various fields yesterday.

The team-of-four in men’s bowling delivered strike after strike to win the gold three days after Merwin Tan reigned supreme in men’s singles at the Royal City Hanoi Bowling Lanes.

It proves that the Philippines is no longer the sleeping giant in the sport that once had bowlers like Paeng Nepomuceno and Bong Coo excelling on the world stage.

Prior to Tan’s victory in singles, the Philippines had never won the SEAG gold in bowling since Frederick Ong struck in 2011 in Jakarta.

“Of course, we’re very happy,” said head coach Biboy Rivera, the 2010 Asian Games gold medalist in singles.

With Tan, 22, leading the way, the team that included young guns Christian Dychangco, Ivan Malig and Patrick Nuqui finished with 5275 pinfalls, 113 ahead of silver medalist Malaysia.

In judo, Rena Furukawa was awarded the gold in the women’s -57kg after scoring an uchi mata in the golden round against Myanmar’s Myat Noe Wai.

Furukawa, who is based in Japan, won her first SEA Games gold after a bronze finish in 2019 in Manila, and gave the Philippines only its second gold on a cloudy day in Hanoi.

Vietnam pulls away

Looking at the medal standings, there’s nothing and no one that can prevent host Vietnam (140-85-77) from running away with the overall title with only three days of competition left.

With a surge in gold the past two days, Thailand steadily pulled away from the Philippines in the battle for second with its 58-63-89.

Team Philippines slipped to fourth overall with 40-54-76 but stayed in a neck-to-neck race with Indonesia, in third with 40-59-54. Singapore remained a threat also with 40 gold medals plus 40 silvers and 52 bronze.

Every gold medal won or lost from here will matter for Team Philippines and will determine whether the 2019 overall champion will finish in the podium or land in fourth or fifth place.

Hallasgo hit by cramps

On the paved roads of Hanoi, Christine Hallasgo gave her best despite cramping in the final 600 meters and collected the silver medal in the women’s marathon with a time of two hours, 56 minutes, .07 seconds.

The 2019 gold medalist in Subic finished behind gold medalist Odekta Naibaho Elvina of Indonesia (2:55.280) and ahead of bronze winner Ngoc Hoa Hoang Thi of Vietnam (2:57.350).

“Hindi man po gold, masaya ako at na-represent ko ang bansa natin,” said Hallasgo, who capped the country’s strong campaign in athletics that netted five gold, seven silver and 14 bronze medals.

The Philippine chess team of Grandmaster Darwin Laylo and IM Paulo Bersamina made the right moves to clinch the silver medal in the men’s team rapid chess.

Also winning a silver medal were archers Paul Marton dela Cruz and Jennifer Chan in the mixed team compound.

Climbing the podium for bronze medals were Dela Cruz, Flor Matan and Johann Olano in men’s team compound; the women’s team of WGM Janelle Mae Frayna and WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego in rapid chess; Rosegie Ramos in women’s weightlifting (49kg); Samuel Morrison in taekwondo’s kyorugi male -80kg; Hermie Macaranas and Ojay Fuentes in men’s canoe double 1000 meters; gymnast Branna Labadan in women’s all-around showpiece; and Ivan Agustin in the men’s 84kg kumite event of karate.

Ladon, Marcial reach finals

Flyweight Rogen Ladon and star middleweight Eumir Felix Marcial, the reigning champions, provided a 1-2 punch in boxing by reaching the finals at the Bac Dinh Gymnasium.

Light-welterweight James Palicte suffered from acid reflux inside the ring and bowed to Indonesia’s Farrand Papendang in the semis, and will go home with the bronze. Light-flyweight Josie Gabuco also lost on points to Thailand’s Chuthamat Raksat.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for Palicte and Gabuco, gold medalists in 2019.

After a slow start, Marcial staggered his Thai foe early in the second round, forcing the referee to give the former a standing eight-count. The Filipino went for the kill a minute later, landing powerful shots that left his opponent wobbly and the referee stepping in to stop the fight.

Teen tennis sensation Alex Eala and veteran Treat Huey were vying in the semis of mixed doubles as well.

Gold from esports

The Filipinos capped its stint last Wednesday by winning the gold in esports courtesy of Grindsky Aris in the League of Legends’ Wild Rift and a silver in the women’s 4x100 medley relay team of Chloe Isleta, Desirae Aubrey Mangaoang, Miranda Renner and two-time Olympian Jasmine Alkhalldi. Bronze medals were won in vovinam’s women’s 55kg behind Jenelyn Olsim; women’s 4x400 relay squad of Eloisa Luzon, Bernalyn Bejoy, Maureen Schrivers and Robyn Brown; and in women’s freestyle 53kg in wrestling by Grace Loberanes.

The Philippines billiards team remained in the fight for the gold in men’s (Carlo Biado and Johann Chua) and women’s (Rubilen Amit and Chezka Centeno) 10-ball singles. Chua and Amit have secured the gold in 9-ball singles.

Another gold is in sight for Sibol in esports after it barged into the finals of the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang men’s division with a 2-1 win over Singapore. Sibol is a strong bet for the Philippines in esports.

The Filipinos won three golds, a silver and a bronze in esports in 2019.

Tan, a lefty like Filipino bowling icon Paeng Nepomuceno, rolled 1411 pinfalls on a six-game average of 235.17, the best in the field.

“Second gold. Super saya po,” said Tan, almost speechless.

“Hindi ko po alam. Wala po ako maisip,” said Tan when asked how the Philippine team managed to pull it off here.

Dychangco had 1377 pinfalls (229.50) and a tournament-best 278 in the sixth and final game, Malig had 1285 (214.17) and Nuqui a 1202 (200.33).

Malaysia was second with 5161 while Singapore won the bronze with 4963. Indonesia, the overall champion in bowling in 2019, was fourth with 4890.

Two gold medals in the men’s side is already a resounding success for the team that settled for one silver and one bronze on home soil in 2019.

The women’s team, including singles silver medalist Alexis Sy, Lara Wong, Madel Arles and Richelle Leon, fell short of luck and landed fourth place.

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