Friday, 11 December 2009

Molina, 2 jins boost RP bets to fifth spot

Roy Luarca
Philippine Daily Inquirer

VIENTIANE, Laos — Miguel Molina delivered the first swimming gold Thursday night, joining the taekwondo jins in lifting Team Philippines out of the pits in the 25th Southeast Asian Games here.

The best male athlete of the 2007 Games and clocked 4 four minutes 27 seconds in the 400-meter individual medley, edging Thai Nuttapong Ketin by .57 seconds for the gold to kick off his bid to match his four-gold output in Thailand.

Reaping the benefits of a year-round training and extensive foreign exposure, Marie Antoinette Rivero and Alex Briones ruled their respective divisions as the jins continued to shine.

Atoning for their golden misses in the previous games, two-time Olympian Rivero beat Nguyen Thi Dong of Vietnam, 2-1, in the women’s welterweight finals while Briones routed the taller Sorn Elit of Cambodia, 3-0, in their men’s heavyweight match.

The twin triumphs somewhat compensated for the shocking 4-7 defeat suffered by World Cup of Pool champions Efren “Bata” Reyes and Francisco “Django” Bustamante at the hands of Thais Surathep Phoochalam and Nitiwat Kanjanasri in the 9-ball doubles opener.

Though Reyes and Bustamante fought back from 0-3 and 1-4 deficits to tie the match at 4, the Thais, behind Phoochalam’s jump shot in the 10th rack and breaks in the 11th, took the last three racks to seal the huge upset.

The three golds put the Filipinos in fifth place in the medal race with four golds, four silvers and five bronzes.

As of 8 p.m. (9 p.m. in Manila), Singapore surprisingly moved ahead with 9 golds, 3 silvers and 7 bronzes, followed by powerhouse Thailand (6-12-6), Vietnam (6-5-8) and Indonesia (5-0-10).

Welterweight Marlon Avenido and heavyweight Kirstie Alora settled for silvers.

Alora’s 3-4 loss to Rapatkorn Prasossuk rekindled memories of dubious officiating in the past after the judges awarded the Thai a late point that prevented the match from going into sudden death.

“It’s a pity because I didn’t even feel what they said was a point,” said Alora, winner at the recent Korea Open.

Taekwondo has now chipped in three golds, two silvers and as many bronzes for the Philippine medal harvert.

Ryan Arabejo failed to defend his men’s 200m backstroke title, settling for the silver, but more gold medals should emerge from the pool as competition heats up.

The RP men’s team swept Indonesia 3-0 and its women counterpart squeaked by third-seed Vietnam as they made it to the tennis semifinals to be played Friday.

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