Team Philippines tops modest goal with 3 golds
NAYPYITAW—Drawing sparkling performances from two judokas and a billiards world champion, Team Philippines seized three more golds Friday and kept its last-ditch bid for sixth overall afloat with two days remaining in the 27th Southeast Asian Games here.
Judoka Gilbert Ramirez reclaimed the title he last won eight years ago, while 16-year-old Kiyomi Watanabe, tipped to be the future of judo in the country, ruled her division in style at Zayar Thiri Indoor Stadium.
World 10-ball champion Rubilen Amit then ended the country’s campaign in billiards in a blaze of glory by topping the 10-ball event at the expense of a former tormentor, giving the country its third and last gold on another chilly night in the Burmese capital.
With Singapore unleashing a five-gold binge in sailing, the Philippines remained in seventh with a 26-gold, 30-silver, 33-bronze count.
Sailing delivered a couple of silver medals and the fancied taekwondo team also managed two bronze medals for Team Philippines, whose hopes of catching up with the Singaporeans rest on five taekwondo jins, three muay fighters and two judokas who will vie for golds Saturday.
The five-gold haul in sailing raised Singapore’s count to 31-27-40 in the overall race still dominated by Thailand (93-89-72), followed by host Burma (Myanmar) 70-55-69 and Vietnam (66-72-74) as of 11 p.m. Burma time.
“The target remains 30 gold medals and wherever it may take us,” said chef de mission Jeff Tamayo, who earlier lowered the target to 25 golds when golds came in trickles early this week.
“That goal is within reach, but whether it would be enough to get us sixth remains the big question. One thing is for sure, our athletes will continue to do their best for those gold medals,” he added.
Amit subdued 9-ball champion Angelica Magdalena of Indonesia, 7-2, in the finals of women’s 10-ball. It was sweet revenge for Amit, who settled for the silver in 9-ball after bowing to Magdalena last Saturday.
Summoning his old, deadly form, Ramirez executed a bone-crushing armbar to perfection and Thailand’s Banpot Lertthaisong had to tap out in the men’s under 73 kg finals.
It was a sensational victory for the 28-year-old Ramirez, who ended an eight-year gold medal drought in the event he ruled in Vietnam in 2003 and in Manila in 2005.
Showing skill and strength beyond her years, Watanabe forced Thi Hua Bui of Vietnam into submission with 1 minute and 30 seconds left in the match.
“She’s very determined,” said judo coach Rolando Llamas of the Filipino-Japanese teenager, who won a bronze in the Asian Youth Games early this year—a feat that gave her a spot in the Youth Olympic Games next year.
“She’s the future of the sport. She’s young and has plenty of years ahead of her.”
Judo actually had three fighters in gold medal matches, but Jenielou Mosquedo bowed to Om Pongchaliew of Thailand in the finals of the women’s under 57 kg category.
In sailing, skipper Richly Balladares and Ridgely Magsanay wound up second to a Thai pair in the men’s International 470 class at Ngwe Saung Beach, where another Filipino bet Geylord Coveta grabbed another silver behind a Thai titlist.
Taekwondo jins Pauline Louise Lopez and Paul Romero bowed to their respective semifinal rivals for a couple of bronze medals.