Albania in semis; chessers top Indians | Inquirer Sports
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Albania in semis; chessers top Indians

10:37 AM November 22, 2010
GUANGZHOU, CHINA—Annie Albania overcame a gingerly start and adjusted to her opponent’s style well in the final round to hammer out a huge quarterfinal victory that assured her of a bronze medal in the debuting women’s boxing competition of the 16th Asian Games at the far-flung Foshan Gymnasium.
            
Vic Saludar followed suit later in the evening, hammering out a 6-1 quarterfinal victory over Amandeep Singh to also assure himself of at least a bronze medal.
            
Adding the semifinal ticket booked earlier by Rey Saludar, the Philippine boxing team is now assured of at least three bronze medals.
            
Albania trailed Korean Kim Song Hye in the early goings of their 48 to 51 kg match, 0-2, but did not act overly concerned as she merely pawed at her opponent, looking for any opening that would tip the bout to her favor.
            
Unable to crack Kim’s jab—the Korean used her clear reach edge to set up her only points with crisp, quick left flicks—Albania found the opening she needed by crouching low and feinting an attack to the body while leaving a looping overhead right that would find her opponent’s head.
            
Using that strategy, Albania piled up the points en route to the convincing 7-2 win that set her up with a semifinal battle against Aya Shimmoto of Japan, an 8-4 victor over Vietnam’s Ngueyn Thi Tuyet Mai.
            
Saludar could not find his range early against Singh, but he did sneak in a 1-2 combination that both hit their marks to lead, 2-0 early. Singh managed to inch closer at 2-1 before the Filipino finally found his target, landing combinations and crisp uppercuts that bedeviled his Indian foe.
            
The country was stuck at where it was the day before, failing to add to its two-gold, two-silver, eight-bronze haul and still leaving it fourth among Southeast Asian neighbors behind Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
            
Officials are hoping for a change in the country’s count when Marestella Torres competes in the women’s long jump final. Torres will be competing in the very same venue—the Aoti Main Stadium—where she won the Asian athletics championship last year.
            
“She is very familiar with the place and it brings back good memories,” said John Sy in Filipino. “Maybe that will help.”
            
“Hopefully, we can grab a medal.”
            
In cycling, Irish Valenzuela got tied up behind a crash near the finish and failed to engage his rivals in a sprint to the line as he dropped to 24th place with a time of 4:15:08.25 in the men’s road race. Teammate Lloyd Luciean Reynante wound up two places back at 4:15:14.09.
            
Wong Kam Po, the 37-year-old former Marlboro Tour winner, won the gold medal after a successful protest that dropped South Korean Park Sung-baek—who pipped the ageless Hong Kong bike star at the finish—down to 19th place.
            
Valenzuela was part of the lead group that was gearing up for a mad dash to the finish when it hit a full 90-degree right turn 800 meters before the line. Vietnam’s Nguyen Hung Mai caused the spill that also crashed Indonesian standout Tonton Susanto before splitting the lead group in two.
           
Valenzuela was caught in the group behind the crash and never recovered.
            
The national softball women’s team also kissed its hopes for a medal goodbye after losing to Japan, 4-0, in the quarterfinals.
            
The Blu Girls kept their flickering hopes alive by squeaking past Thailand, 1-0, earlier but were simply no match against the Japanese.
            
In chess, victories by Grandmasters Wesley So and Eugene Torre spurred the Philippines to a scintillating 2.1-1.5 victory over favored India, putting the country in second place with four rounds to go in men’s team competition.
            
So defeated GM Pentala Harikrishna while Torre, the sport’s icon, tore apart GM B. Adhiban to propel the Filipinos to eight points, two behind the pacesetting 10 of China.
            
GM Joey Antonio drew with GM Krishnan Sasikiran.
            
In bowling, the men’s second crack at the team of five gold failed to get anywhere as the team finished with 2971 pinfalls, 475 off the 3446 of gold winner Korea.
            
In the men’s all events, singles gold medal winner Biboy Rivera drifted lower in the standings, totaling 5231 to stay at eighth place, the best among Filipinos. Rivera’s total, though, should catapult him to the Masters finals, where he hopes to add to the country’s medal collection.
      
In basketball, Smart Gilas Pilipinas barged into the quarterfinals after defeating Chinese-Tapei, 82-73.

Asi Taulava powered his way toward a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds.

PH-five, who finished third in Group F with a 3-2 mark, will take on a familiar foe in South Korea on Wednesday (November 24).

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TAGS: Annie Albania, Asi Taulava, ASIAD, Asian Games, Basketball, Boxing, Chess, Eugene Torre, Smart Gilas-Pilipinas, Vic Saludar, Wesley So
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