No break for Pinoy pugs

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

ABAP president Ed Picson said yesterday it was a severe challenge for the Philippine boxing team to bring home three golds, one silver and five bronzes from the Hanoi SEA Games, describing the experience as frustrating but “were still thankful for what we got.” There were seven golds at stake in mens boxing and the Philippines had entries in five. In the womens side, the 69kg and 75kg divisions were struck out for failing to reach the required minimum of four contestants, leaving four golds on the line.

Hitting paydirt were Rogen Ladon (52kg), Ian Clark Bautista (57kg) and Eumir Marcial (75kg). Irish Magno (51kg) claimed the silver while James Palicte (63kg), Marjon Pianar (69kg), Josie Gabuco (48kg), Riza Pasuit (57kg) and Nesthy Petecio (60kg) settled for the bronze. Hergie Bacyadan wouldve competed in the scrapped womens 75 kg class.

It couldve easily been six or seven golds,” said Picson. “But we had a couple of bad decisions that took down Josie and Nesthy. Palicte got acid reflux in the second round and lost a close decision after he was penalized a point in the third. He couldnt breathe, kept falling and doubling up. The decision was 3-0 because two judges had it even. A case of bad luck. Marjon was ahead in the first round and his Indonesian opponent was given a standing eight-count. Then, he disregarded the game plan, looked for a knockout in the second round, went berserk, got tagged and took a standing eight-count himself. He gassed out and had nothing left in the third. Hergie couldve also given us a gold. In 2019 when we hosted the SEA Games, there were two divisions with only two entries but the fights went on. Its the organizersprerogative. The Thai fighter in the 69kg division offered to move up to 75kg just so there would be three contestants but ‘di rin pinayagan.”

Picson said even the training for Hanoi was hampered. “Early this year, we went to Baguio but when we got there, another sport had occupied the gym where we used to train,” he said. “The problem was the equipment laid out in the gym wasnt for boxing. So we left for Cagayan de Oro where Mayor Oscar Moreno welcomed us. Then, we decided to set up camp in Thailand since we were competing in the Thai Open. We were in Thailand for five to six weeks. We had to realign our funds from the MVP Sports Foundation to pay for our expenses in Thailand when we couldnt get any more support from PSC. We tried to bring in a heavyweight to Hanoi but PSC didnt agree because we had no track record in the division.”

Despite the relocations, Picson said the Philippine boxers and coaches stayed the course. “Were the only country where every boxer took a medal,” he said. “I felt for Josie who was shooting for her sixth SEA Games gold medal because she deserved to win but her Thai opponent took a 4-1 decision. She was inconsolable and emotional. Josie led, 3-2, in the first round then we were shocked when the Thai won the second round, 5-0. Nesthy lost a 4-1 decision to a Vietnamese in the semis and I think the judges were influenced by the hometown crowd that kept cheering loudly. Ladon had the toughest fights and beat a Thai in the semis, 3-2 and a Vietnamese in the final. Bautista is our hard-luck kid, a victim of bum decisions in the past. He got a bronze in 2019 but this time, won gold. Now that were back home, we continue to train. We cant let up. No breaks for us except during Holy Week and Christmas. Were planning to join the Acropolis Cup in Athens next month and more competitions are being lined up.”


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