Sure boxing silver; jins add 3 bronzes
INCHEON, South Korea—The Philippines settled for three bronze medals and the promise of at least a silver on Thursday, leaning on boxing and taekwondo fighters to crash the podium party at the 14th Asian Games here.
Charly Suarez reached the finals of the lightweight category after making Jordan’s Mohammad Mustafa Obada Alkasbeh pay for abandoning what looked like a solid game plan to hammer out a split decision victory in their semifinal duel at Seonhak Gymnasium.
Alkasbeh had the fight under control with laser-guided jabs that kept Suarez at bay but inexplicably engaged the Filipino in exchanges from the second round onward, losing a majority of the flurries.
Suarez will face Mongolia’s Otgondalai Dorjnyambuu in the finals.
His victory, though, was subdued after losses by Mark Anthony Barriga and Mario Fernandez in the evening bouts. The two settled for bronze medals after losing to their semifinal foes.
Barriga’s defeat is expected to gain a lot of scrutiny—he lost a controversial decision to Korean pug Shin Jong-hun.
In Thursday’s final bout for the Philippines, Wilfredo Lopez settled for the bronze after dropping a split decision to Jordan’s Odai Riyad Adel Alhindawi in their middleweight bout.
Lopez took the first round and could have advanced to the finals had he won any of the two remaining rounds.
Also settling for a bronze medal was taekwondo’s Benjamin Sembrano, who cramped up on one leg, and had a hamstring banged in another and bowed out of the men’s -69 kg bout against China’s Huang Jiannan.
Sembrano’s bronze was the fourth for the taekwondo team in three days, but coach Roberto Cruz is hoping his wards can end the country’s gold drought in the sport with its last three fighters at Ganghwa Dolmens Gymnasium: Japoy Lizardo, Francis Agojo and Elaine Alora.
“We really want to win a gold finally for the country in the Asian Games,” said coach Roberto Cruz. “We came here really prepared.”
Agojo drew probably the best path to the gold. He opens against Myanmar’s Shein Naing Dwe in the -58 kg class and will not meet any of the top bets until he reaches the semifinals. It is Alora, however, who needs to win just one match to medal here. The 2010 Asian Games bronze medalist drew a bye in the -73 kg class and is a waiting quarterfinalist.
Lizardo, another bronze medalist from the Guangzhou Asiad, opens his campaign in the -54 kg class against Laos’ Kuangmany Thipphakone.
Jane Rafaelle Narra, an Asian Games first-timer, lost her debut in the Games to China’s Guo Yunfei, the reigning champion in the -67 kg class, 5-0.
The neophyte UST jin’s loss was not as tough to swallow as the one Barriga suffered. After a first round where Shin fought with a lot of activity, Barriga unlocked his foe’s style and started tagging him with counters and crisp combos.
Still, the judges gave the first two rounds to the Korean bet and Barriga, who seemed to know what he was up against because he would swing wildly for the fences every now and then, needed a KO when the third round began.
He did not get one, although he seemed to have done enough to earn the win. Still, it was a split decision for Shin.
Although Fernandez rocked Zhang Jiawei of China several times, he lacked the combinations to really sway the judges. He lost in all three rounds.
At Namdong Asiad Rugby Field, the Philippine Volcanoes salvaged fifth place after turning back China, 28-21. They earlier routed Thailand, 45-0.
In decathlon, Jesson Cid failed to complete the last two events because of an injury. Cid won the 100m and 400m races of the event but failed to complete a jump in pole vault and skipped the javelin throw due to a recurring bum knee.