New big boss

December 10, 2019
Eumir Felix Marcial
Eumir Felix Marcial watches as Vietnam’s Nguyen Manh Cuong is being counted ut by the referee in a bout that last just 71 seconds. (Photo courtesy of George Calvelo, ABS-CBN)

Team PH gets ready for its big coronation

LIKE an imported, expensive coffee, Team Philippines is good to the last drop.

The host team on Tuesday continued to apply the finishing touches to its astonishing overall triumph while getting ready—and excited—for its impending coronation as the new big boss of the Southeast Asian Games.

Going hot even on the penultimate day of the 12-day sporting showpiece among 11 nations, the Filipino athletes took a share of the few, remaining gold medals disputed on Tuesday to raise its total to a staggering number that’s looks too big to be true.

As of 5 p.m., Team PH has won 140 golds in a remarkable showing that left the enemies buried eight feet under as emerged No. 1 again just what it did in 2005 in what would later go down as the Miracle of 2005.

With the way the Filipinos have achieved the feat this time, sports pundits have started to describe  it as the Massacre of 2019.

Raking in medals here, there and everywhere, Team PH virtually clinched the overall championship as early as Wednesday as correctly predicted by People’s Journal, pulling away unmolested and leaving the rest of the field to settle for the crumbs.

It’s been that way for 10 glorious days—Team PH cornering most of the golds in both popular and lesser-known sports and Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore picking up just one or two.

Traditional powerhouse Thailand has moved up from fifth to second overall in a mighty fightback with 84 golds, just three more than second-running Vietnam which has 81. Indonesia has 70 wins, with 2017 winner Malaysia (51) and Singapore (51) tied for fifth spot as of presstime.

One of the top officials now basking in the triumph was Philippine Olympic Commttee president Abraham ‘Bambol’ Tolentino.

“I am overwhelmed by the performance of our athletes. They showed to us that with proper support and encouragement, they will deliver,” Tolentino said in a text message to People’s Journal.

“I’m proud they proved that my faith in them was well-placed. But this is just the beginning. I see better things ahead for Philippine sports,” the Cavite congressman added.         Contributing to the gold medal production on Tuesday were Caviar ‘EnDerr’ Acampado in the new event of esports, shooting and the men’s soft tennis teams, victories which came just a few hours after Team PH had struck heavily in the combat sports of boxing, jiu-jitsu and taekwondo.

Acampado asserted his dominance in the Starcraff II field, beating Singapore’s Thomas ‘ Blysk’ Kopankiewicz in a 4-1 sweep to claim the gold for the team’s third in the sport that made its debut in this regional games.

The Filipino drew first blood after quickly beating the Singaporean in Game 1 and 2. But Kopankiewicz bounced back in Game 3 only to see the local bet win the next two matches and eventually the championship.

Like the esports squad, the men’s soft tennis group made its presence felt.

With veteran Joseph Arcilla leading the charge, the PH soft tennisters beat their Thai counterparts, 2-1, to complete a sweep of the golds in this sport dying to win the hearts of local fans.

Arcila beat Yanmarit Kawin, 4-1, providing the tying win in the series after countrymen Noel Damian and Mark Anthony Alcoseba dropped a 3-5 decision to Thansiriroj Sakan and Surarak Thanarit in the first doubles match.

All of a sudden, the team found its fate at the hands of Mikoff Manduriao and Dheo Talatayod.

Drawing inspiration from local fans inside the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center, Manduriao and Talatayod didn’t disappoint. They beat their Thai rivals, 5-3, in the decider, triggering a wild celebration that saw the local team repeatedly ran around the courts carrying the PH flag as fans cheered.

Earlier in the tournament, Bien Zoleta-Manalac won the women’s singles and teamed up with sister Bambi Zoleta to capture the women’s doubles crown for the two other PH golds in the sport staged for the first time in 2011.  

At the Ilanin forest in Subic, the men’s trap team of Carlos Carag, Eric Ang and Alewxander Topacio pieced together scores of 23-24-20-24 for a five-round total of 338, giving the Philippines its third gold in shooting.

Carag later returned and won a silver in the men’s Trap (shotgun) finals with 41 points, 3 shy of Thailand’s Savate Sresthaporn, who made it on top with 44 points.