Cagers provide ray of hope for struggling Pinoys in SEA Games



NAY PYI TAW – Sinag Pilipinas provided struggling Team Philippines one of its very few rays of sunshine Thursday in the 27th Southeast Asian Games.

Female boxer Josie Gabuco made it through to the light-flyweight finals with an impressive win and swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi and Matt Navata are through to the evening finals of their respective events.

Yet the Filipinos generally floundered with only three bronze medals to add to their overall tally, an effort that looked miniscule indeed when ranged against the surges being made by their regional rivals.

That’s why the victories posted by the men’s basketball team and Gabuco are being savored to the fullest.

Ronald Pascual scored 18 points and Rey Mark Belo 17 as the PHL cagers thumped Myanmar 118-43 for their third straight win and gave them momentum going to the crucial Friday match against fellow unbeaten Thailand, 80-67 winner over Cambodia earlier.

Gabuco carved a lopsided 40-36, 40-34, 40-34, 40-36 victory over Sornka Chantavonsra of Laos to advance to also avert a boxing shutout for the day as flyweight Maricris Igam and bantamweight Irish Magno lost their respective semifinals bout.

The win enabled Gabuco, who won the 2011 pinweight gold, to join featherweight Nesthy Petecio in the finals.

Woodpushers got off to a shaky start in the relatively unfamiliar Asean chess as Darwin Laylo drew with Nay Kyaw Tun of Myanmar while fellow GM Eugene Torre lost to Muhammad Luftiali of Indonesia in the six-round event.

Aside from the prayers of its countrymen back home Team Philippines got a more up close and personal form of a morale-booster Thursday.

Ambassador Alex Chua made the rounds of the Philippine quarters here, in Yangon and Ngwesaung Beach before proceeding to Mandalay to personally watch the women’s football game between the Malditas and Vietnam Friday.

The Filipinos sure look like they need all the help they could get, what with the generally bleak picture drawn Thursday that started with the news of two-event defending champion Iris Ranola receiving news of her father’s death back home.

According to BSCP secretary-general and billiards delegation head Robert Mananquil, Ranola will still see action in the 9-ball singles which she won in 2011 along with the 8-ball singles.

Wrestlers Alvin Lobrequito, Jhonny Morte and Joseph Angana could only settle for the bronze, leaving Jason Balabal, silver medalist in the Greco-Roman 84kg class and competing in Friday’s freestyle final, as the lone PHL hope trying to avoid a gold shutout in the sport.

Better results are also expected elsewhere as billiards, karatedo, weightlifting and sailing get going with Filipino karatekas, swimmers, cue artists and lifters, as well as those in canoeing and kayaking, eyeing to win gold medals.

Karateka Orencio James Virgil de los Santos takes part in individual kata while teammate Eugene Stoner Dagohoy vies in men’s 84kg kumite.

Men’s 100m freestyler Jessie Khing Lacuna, 100m breastroker Joshua Hall and individual medley specialist Navata try their luck in the morning heats, hoping to make it to the evening finals.

Weightlifter Jeffrey Garcia also sees action in the 62kg final.

Light-flyweight Mark Anthony Barriga, flyweight Rey Saludar, bantamweight Mario Fernandez, lightweight Junel Cantancio, light-welterweight Dennis Galvan and welter Wilfredo Lopez each guns for a finals seat.

Paddler Hermie Macaranas and kayaker Alex Generalo plunge back into action in the men’s C1 200m and K1 200m, respectively, eager to make up for their medal-less finishes Thursday.

Six male PHL boxers, led by 2011 light welterweight champion Dennis Galvan and London Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga, also try to follow suit in their own semis matches Friday.

Galvan tangles with Ericok Amonopunyo of Indonesia, Barriga faces Mohd Faud Mohd Reuvan of Malaysia in the light flyweight class, flyweight Rey Saludar battles Mg Nge of Myanmar, bantamweight Mario Fernandez clashes with Tran Quocc Viet of Vietnam, lightweight Junel Cantancio fights Muhamad Ridhwan Ahmad of Singapore and welterweight Wilfredo Lopez collides with Alex Tatantos of Indonesia.

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