Now it can be told: PH is overall 30th SEAG champion

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NEW CLARK CITY — Now it can be told: Host Team Philippines is the overall champion once again of the Southeast Asian Games even with still three full days of competitions.

The 30th edition of the biennial meet the country is hosting for the fourth time winds up December 11, 2019, but Philippine Olympic Committee chairman Steve Hontiveros said PH’s perch on top of the pack is already unassailable.

The country now sports a 106-81-88 gold-silver-bronze medal haul or for a total of 275 medals as of 8:30 p.m. Sunday.

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“We got this. We are overall champions. Other countries don’t have much left to get gold medals from,” said Hontiveros, ostensibly referring to nearest rivals Indonesia (65-61-77) and Vietnam (62-59-75).

More gold medals are expected from different events for team Philippines like athletics, boxing, softball, baseball, basketball, taekwondo, and men’s volleyball whose gutsy squad pulled the rug from under four-time champion Thailand in five sets (17-25, 25-20, 23-25, 27-25, 17-15) to arrange a finals duel with Indonesia on Tuesday.

“This should give interest to the government and the private sector to support all the athletes in all the sports because they will realize their money won’t go to waste,” added Hontiveros.

On the other hand, Philippine Sports Commission chair Butch Ramirez credited PH’s strong showing in the SEAG to the one thousand plus national athletes.

“Thankful for all the sacrifice and handwork that went behind pushing their chances for a shining moment of victory,” Ramirez said.

Pole vaulter Uy debuts in style

Meanwhile, Nathalie Uy made her golden debut in the 30th Southeast Asian Games Sunday night, ruling the women’s pole in record-breaking style in front of an appreciative hometown crowd at the New Clark City Athletics Stadium.

Cheered on by the predominantly Filipino gallery of 8,000,  Uy cleared 4.25  meters to tie her own national mark while smashing the old SEAG record of 4.21 meters set by Thai  Sukanya Chomcuendee in the 2013 edition held Myanmar.

The Philippines keeps baseball diadem

In baseball, the Philippines swept its way to the baseball crown, blasting Thailand, 15-2, Sunday.

The Filipinos unleashed their full force against the hapless Thais, scoring on each of the first seven innings to win the gold medal in eight innings.

Team manager Orlando Binarao credited the win to their vaunted offense.

“The boys played very inspired baseball today,” said Binarao after the victory at The Villages.

Philippine Volcanoes take gold

In rugby, the Philippine Volcanoes dominated the men’s division, while the Lady Volcanoes settled for second in the women’s class in the rugby 7s competition of the 30th Southeast Asian Games Sunday at the Parade Grounds here.

The Volcanoes blasted defending champion Malaysia, 19-0, to capture the gold medal in the men’s category.

This is the second time that the Volcanoes defeated the Malaysians in the finals after scoring a 24-7 triumph in the 2015 Singapore SEA Games before finishing fourth in the 2017 edition held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Meanwhile, the Lady Volcanoes lost to Thailand, 7-17, in the women’s gold medal round.

Surfer Casugay wins hearts and admiration

In surfing, Roger Casugay won not the gold but he won hearts and admiration of a grateful nation.

Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez is one grateful man as he recognized Roger Casugay’s heroism, sportsmanship, and sacrifice, traits that embody the Filipino Athlete’s true warrior spirit.

“I will include Roger in our awarding in Malacanang to meet the President. The PSC will give him a plaque of recognition for his heroic deed and a cash incentive to be approved by the PSC board, Ramirez said in a statement.

The country’s bet in the men’s longboard open event in surfing, Roger failed to win a medal of any color, although he had already built a sizeable lead eight minutes into the competition.

He didn’t win a medal, because he chose the ultimate sacrifice in sports, of setting aside his quest for glory, and instead help others in times of life-threatening situations.

Roger’s ultimate sacrifice —  he rescued surfing rival,  Indonesian Arip Nurhidayat, who was in danger of being swallowed by the waves of Monalisa Point beach in La Union after his surfer’s leash broke – has become the biggest story in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, perhaps even bigger than the athletes’ rash of golds in the first six days of competition.

It was a great story which deserves to be retold, not only to inspire others but to remind us all that in sports, winning isn’t everything — it’s about how you play the game.

Pagdanganan wins a second gold

In golf, Bianca Pagdanganan bagged her second gold in women’s golf by ruling the team event with Lois Kaye Go over at the Luisita golf course.

The 22-year-old golfer bested Natasha Oon of Malaysia in the final pairing of match play 3-2.

Pagdanganan, a member of the Philippine team that won the team gold in the 2018 Asian Games, made it a double gold following her triumph in the individual event last Friday.

4 PHI fighters gain kickboxing finals

In kickboxing, four of five Filipino fighters bested their opponents Sunday to barge into the final round of the kickboxing competition of the 30th Southeast Asian Games at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Renalyn Dacquel bannered the PH squad with a second-round referee-stopped-contest victory over Indonesia’s Priscilla Lumban in the women’s -48kg full contact class.

Manabo, a 22-year-old native of Abra, was the aggressor throughout, banking on her boxing skills as a pro fighter to demolish her foe.

“It’s a nice feeling to see your training bearing fruits. The training is really taxing,” said Dacquel.

Gina Iniong outclassed Vietnam’s Lai Thi Nga 3-0 for a shot at the gold medal in the women’s -55kg kick light category while Jerry Olsim scored a 3-0 win over Indonesia’s Serial Efendi in the men’s -69kg kick light division.

The fourth Filipino fighter, Jomar Balanguie, also moved a win away from the men’s -54kg low kick title after beating Cambodia’s Cham Khem.

But Karol Maguide yielded to Indonesian Rumahpasal Aprilando of Indonesia 0-3 in the men’s 51kg full contact semifinal.

Jean Claude Saclag hopes to follow his teammates to the finals when he fights in the men’s 63.5kg low kick semifinal on Monday.

Filipina taekwondo jin regains the gold

In taekwondo, Pauline Lopez of the Philippines handily beat Cambodia’s Chhoeung Aliza 10-3 to bag the gold in the women’s under 57-kgs division of taekwondo competitions in the 30th Southeast Asian Games at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

With her parents watching from the stands, Lopez, 23, connected on the chest of her taller foe early in the opening round to take a 3-0 lead she protected to the end to regain the gold medal she won in 2015 in Singapore.

“My parents were watching for the first time in 10 years. So I didn’t want to fail them. I know they prayed hard for my success,” said Lopez, who settled for the bronze in the 2017 games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

She padded her lead to 7-2 before Chhoeung score anew. But the Los Angeles-born Lopez proved steadier in the stretch.

“I’m very overwhelmed by the cheers of our Kababayans (fellow Filipinos). It’s really nice to play in your home town. It was so inspiring,” added Lopez. (IAMIGO/CNS)

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