Freeman Cebu Sports

Awe Expiring

WRECKORDER - FGS Gujilde - The Freeman

Send Cebu province to the Southeast Asian Games and it will beat Singapore. If you look at the numbers, there is nothing to celebrate about our late surge past Singapore in the regional games. Why a country peopled with at least 112 million won only 5 golds more than a city state of about 6 million speaks volumes about Philippine sports whereabouts. Just do the math. Ratio and proportion. For those poor in numbers, here’s the clue – Cebu province is seven times bigger than Singapore.

Expectedly, we lost the overall crown at a time when we are winning the war against the viral crown. It didn’t hurt, we conceded the championship to the host country before the competition even started, just as our neighbors conceded to us three years ago. At a games where the host country uses and abuses the privilege to pick optional events it has best chances at gold and dispenses disciplines it has least chances at bronze, expect the expected.

If it is any consolation, Team Philippines delivered in sports found in the Olympic calendar. The boxing team of nine all medaled. Eumir Marcial, Rogen Ladon and Ian Clark Bautista slugged to gold. But Olympic silver medalist and former world champion Nesthy Petecio settled for bronze.

It also showed depth. Hidilyn Diaz won her weight for the country after losing some of her own weight. Another Filipino, Vanessa Sarno won her weight too, even beyond it, by resetting three regional records, smiling instead of grimacing.

But while hurdlers Eric Cray and Clinton Bautista succeeded without successors, Kayla Richardson reclaimed her century dash crown. But she is not a successor to, but will be a rival competitor of Kristina Knott who is still at her peak. It could be Lydia de Vega and Elma Muros rivalry resurrected. Flag bearer EJ Obiena flew to a height no one else in the region knew.

But the brightest star is Carlos Yulo who turned the gymnastics arena into his private backyard with 5 golds and two silvers, making the diminutive world champion the most decorated Filipino athlete. University pep squads should change venue, a good number of them could be the next Yulo.

But in basketball where the country may never have the chance to at least qualify for the Olympics, the women’s team won but the men’s team bowed down. Not to perennial threat Thailand but to the never heard Indonesia. The last time the country ceded the one gold that matters was about a quarter of a century ago. An all-amateur Filipino team lost to host Malaysia that allegedly employed underhanded tactics to pull the rug from under.

But this time there are no excuses. The Indonesians came in from outside shooting to stun the much-vaunted Philippine team of professional players. Except perhaps their surprise package of three naturalized former NBA players. But we cannot complain, we too have them. Even in soccer where most players are Filipinized by lineage to the maternal side. But we have welcomed them, even if some could not even sing the national anthem.


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