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PH wins silver in sepak

Eight men passing the ball made of hand-woven rattan gave the Philippines its first medal – a silver – in the 29th Southeast Asian Games yesterday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The sepak takraw team, which trained extensively in Thailand and Myanmar, earned 271 points in the linking event of men’s chinlone, a score bettered only by gold medalist Malaysia which collected 391 points. Brunei took the bronze.

The team is composed of John-John Bobier, Rhemwil Catana, Ronsited Gabayeron, Joeart Jumawan, John Carlo Lee, John Jeffrey Morcillos, Regie Pabriga and Alvin Pangan.

The unexpected success made up for the country’s disappointing results in archery where only Paul Marton dela Cruz managed to reach the semifinals in the men’s individual compound event.

“We are just getting warmed up. We will give you all the medals you so deserve,” said Karen Caballero, president of the sepak takraw association, in her Facebook post.

Caballero cited the training the team underwent in Thailand and Myanmar for their initial success.

“After Myanmar, we proceeded to isolate the team with three months training in Dipolog and Iloilo,” Caballero said.

The Filipinos gun for a second medal Thursday in the men’s chinlone event 4.

Hopes for a possible gold strike in archery three days ahead of the Games’ formal opening vanished despite the strong showing of Amaya Amparo Cojuangco and Dela Cruz in the qualifying rounds.

While Cojuangco floundered, Dela Cruz salvaged bronze by beating Zulfadhli Ruslan, 10-9, in a thrilling sudden-death, shoot-off in the men’s individual archery compound event at the Synthetic Turf Field inside the KL Sports City in Bukit Jalil.

After 50 arrows, Dela Cruz and Ruslan, a silver medalist in the 2015 Singapore SEA Games, were deadlocked at 144, paving the way for the single-arrow shoot-off.

Picked to shoot first, Dela Cruz calmly shot a 10 while his Malaysian rival could only muster a 9 to clinch his first SEA Games individual bronze medal after sharing the team bronze honors in the Singapore SEA Games two years ago.

Cojuangco, who finished third in the qualifying, ousted Madeleine Ong Xue Li of Singapore, 142-132, in the Round of 16, but was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Dellie Threesyadinda of Indonesia, 141-137.

Cojuangco won the silver two years ago in Singapore.

The Filipinos, who beat Thailand, 9-7, Tuesday, rallied from 4-1 down at the break to level the count at 7-all until Tan Xi Yun broke away and connected from point blank range, past goalkeeper Tani Gonzales Jr. with 1:58 remaining.

A last-gasp goal by Alamara Mumar with 59 seconds left was nullified by the referee allowing the host team to preserve the win.

Dale Evangelista, the playing assistant coach, rued spotty officiating.

“May chance pa kami, pero di kami nabigyan ng penalty shot,” said Evangelista.

Hungarian coach Gabi Egedi blamed the team for its lackluster start.

The Filipinos, who last won a medal in 2009, take on heavy favorite and perennial champion Singapore on Thursday.

The 26-time titlists massacred Thailand, 13-2, in the other game.

Late Tuesday, the Philippines swept its initial matches in football.

The men’s team clobbered Cambodia, 2-0, behind goals by Reymart Cubon in the 52nd minute and Belgira Kouichi in the 81st at the Selayang Municipal Council Stadium.

The Filipinos, however, face a tall order of advancing into the semifinals after getting drawn with Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Timor-Leste. Making up the other group are Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos, Brunei and Singapore.

In other men’s matches, Vietnam crushed Timor-Leste while Indonesia and Thailand battled to a 1-all draw.

In women’s play, the Nationals edged Malaysia, 2-1, with Kathleen Rodriguez delivering the winning goal in the 74th minute at the UiTM Stadium.

Patrice Impledo gave the Philippines its first goal in the first half stopped time. Nine minutes into the second half, Malaysia leveled through Dadree Rufinos’ shot.

In the other game, five-time champion Thailand outlasted Myanmar, 3-2.