By Nick Giongco

CLARKFIELD, Pampanga—The Philippines flashed its fangs on Monday with Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz and the pair of basketball 3×3 teams scoring emphatic wins in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

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Dexter Balambao of the Philippines landed on his opponent Pang Soe of Myanmar during their Bantamweight Arnis Match at the Angeles University Foundation in Pampanga. Balambao bagged the first gold medal for the Philippine Arnis Team. (MB File Photo / Mark Balmores / Captured using Sony A9 with 200-600m Lens )

Before a vibrant crowd at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manila, Diaz lifted a combined 211 kg (91 kg in snatch and 120 kg in the clean-and-jerk) and relegate Vietnamese rival Thi Thuy Nguyen, who could only do 197 kg (82 and 115), to the silver medal. Indonesian Juliana Klarisa was third with a 175-kg lift (80 and 95).

Diaz’s victory was her first in the SEAG level and it showed how she cherished her latest conquest.

Just before Diaz’s romp, the men and women’s 3×3 basketball squads likewise won their respective finals matchups in games held at The Arena in San Juan.

The CJ Perez-spiked men’s team dumped Vietnam, 21-9, while the women’s side, led by Afril Bernardino, tripped Thailand, 17-13.

After racing to 22 gold medals in the first day of competitions, the Philippines continued its winning ways by adding 16 gold for a total of 38 aside from 20 silver and 13 bronze medals.

Vietnam trailed at second with a 15-20-16 collection and Malaysia at third with 10-2-7. Indonesia (6-11-12) and Thailand (6-9-16) make up the first five.

Arnis made a heavy contribution with its seven gold medals after four women and three men topped their respective events, increasing the traditional martial arts production to 12 after its initial five on the first day.

The seven winners were Elmer Manlapas in the full contact padded stick featherweight division, Carloyd Tejada in welterweight and Jesfer Huguire in bantamweight.

Bantam Sheena Del Monte, feather Jedah Soriano, lightweight Ashley Monville and welter Abegal Abad also grabbed the limelight alongside their men’s counterparts.

Cycling also rose to the occasion with two gold medals in mountainbike downhill in Batangas courtesy of John Derrick Farr and Lea Belgira while the team mixed relay in triathlon in Subic Bay shone bright behind Kim Mangrobang, Claire Adorna, Fer Casares and John Chicano.

Also in Subic Bay, Monica Torres ruled duathlon pretty easy after breaking away early en route to a clocking of 2 hours, eight minutes and 44 seconds in the 10-kilometer run, 40-km bike and 5-km run.

Thailand’s Pareeya Sonsem settled for the silver with a 2:11.18 effort and Vietnam’s Thi Phuong Nguyen submitted 2:14.20 for third.

Though the numbers suggest that Torres just cruised to the win, it was some sort of a miracle that she made it after revealing that she was sick to her stomach hours before the start of the race.

“I wasn’t feeling well and it was difficult for me because I threw up and that’s the reason why I ran out of gas,” said Torres, a seasoned campaigner internationally but a first-timer in the SEAG.

“It must have been something I ate but the support from the people was strong and I just could not let them down,” added the Powerman Asian Duathlon champion about her ordeal.

Pencak silat, an Indonesian martial art, produced a gold for the Philippines after Edmar Tacuel topped the male tunggal event in Subic Bay.

In lawn bowls, the Philippines beat Thailand in the men’s pairs, 19-11, also for the gold.

Meanwhile, as Luzon braces for the impact of Typhoon Tisoy, which is expected to hit Metro Manila, Southern Luzon, Central and Northern Luzon on Tuesday, Phisgoc Executive Director Tom Carrasco said an emergency meeting has been set to determine which sports in the Subic Bay cluster are going to be postponed and allowed to proceed.

There are 15 events on tap in Subic Bay, mostly water sports, and some sports may have to be moved to a later date.

Among the sports hosted by Subic include rowing, canoe-kayak, traditional boat race, windsurfing, open water swimming, triathlon and duathlon, beach volleyball and beach handball.

Dancesport spiked host Philippines’ huge haul during the first day with ten gold medals while traditional martial art arnis handed over five, sepak takraw and triathlon with two apiece, gymnastics, kurash and wushi with one each.

The 2019 SEAG features 530 events in 56 sports and competitions are scattered all over Luzon with the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, as main hub although Metro Manila is venue to the marquee sports like
basketball, boxing and volleyball.

With the Philippines off to a blazing start, the quest of winning the overall title seems to be right on track with more than eight days of competition in the calendar.

Palace lauds Filipino athletes

Malacañang has lauded Filipino athletes for bagging at least 24 medals on the first day of the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG), saying their hard work in training is paying off.

As the Palace praised the athletes’ strong start, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said they also wish good luck to the rest of the athletes in their competition in the coming days.

“The Palace is closely monitoring the performance of our athletes in the 30th South East Asian Games and is pleased to know that their hard work in training is paying off,” he said.

“We congratulate our athletes who have won and brought honor to the country in this ongoing biennial multi-sport event,” he said.

“We wish the rest of our athletes who will be competing in the coming days the best of luck,” Panelo said.

The country’s early gold haul came following the widely praised opening ceremony of the games over the weekend. The biennial games opened with an impressive spectacle of Filipino culture, music, and dance at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan last Saturday. (With a report from Genalyn Kabiling)

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