Sliding to fifth place, the Philippines relied on a strong finish to take it forward

Chezka Rai Rubilen Amit SEA Games

File – Filipino cue artist Chezka Senteno and Rubilen Amit 7 Photo by Mark Giongco / INQUIRER.net

HANOY: The Philippine gold rush on Friday was so weak that it dropped to fifth place in the 31st Southeast Asian Games.

But as the Philippine team moves toward the finals of the biennial meet, there is more gold that could put the country in a better finish.

Heidelin Diaz’s gold highlights Friday, and it is hoped the Olympic champion’s fame will inspire a second wave of gold rush. The team is aiming for a third or fourth place finish in the Philippine overall standings and even dropped to fifth place by 6pm on Friday.

There are only 43 gold medals to show for the country, including 57 silver and 80 bronze. The indomitable number of host Vietnam 158-95-91. Thailand is second (65-72-102), Singapore is third (47-44-62) and Indonesia is fourth (46-66-59).

“We still have a lot of (gold) expectations,” said Abraham “Bambol” Talentino, president of the Philippine Olympic Committee, referring to men’s and women’s basketball, billiards, e-sports, boxing and weightlifting. “Singapore is no more.”

“If we all work hard together, we will win together,” said Mon Fernandez, commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission. “This is not the time for us to be discouraged because recovering number 3 is still a lot more possible.”

Optimism is not unfounded.

Billiards has secured two more gold medals in this SEA Games as all Filipinos were cast in the 10-ball final. Rubilen Amit and Chezka Senteno will debate the women’s gold, while Johan Chua will fight Carlo Biado in the men’s final at the Ha Dong Gymnasium.

It’s an all-Filipino men’s doubles final in tennis, despite defending champions Francis Casey Alcantara and Jason Petrombon and Treat Hue and Ruben Gonzalez defeating their respective semifinals.

Patrombon and Alcantara defeated Vietnam’s Kook Le Khan and Nguyen Van Fuong 6-4, 6-2.

Huey and Gonzalez then scored 6-4, 6-2 against local pair Min Pham Tuan and Trin Lin Giang.

Filipinos argue over gold at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Boxing also has a handful of gold in hand, led by Olympic bronze medalist Yumi’s search for a middleweight crown in the martial region.

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