Unrelenting to the end

    146
    Still champ. Eric Cray of the Philippines celebrates his victory in the 400M hurdles, his third in SEA Games history.
    Still champ. Eric Cray of the Philippines celebrates his victory in the 400M hurdles, his third in SEA Games history.

    MEMBERS of Team Philippines refused to let the crumbs of the 30th Southeast Asian Games go to waste Tuesday, not with the incentives about to be tripled.

    According to the Philippine Sports Commission, President Duterte is set to pad the cash bonuses awaiting the medal winners in the latest edition of the biennial regional meet. The PSC said Duterte is set to hand out P250,000 for each gold medal, P150,000 for a silver and P100,000 for a bronze.

    Those rewards come on top of the P300,000, P150,000 and P100,000 bounties under the incentives law and the P300,000 commitment for each gold by Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.

    That explains why Filipino athletes still took a hefty bite out of the remaining gold medals even with the overall championship – the country’s second after the 2005 Games – long in the bag.

    Dominant. Gina Iniong of the Philippines hovers over a fallen Agi Mingwan of Thailand in the finals of the -55kg women’s kickboxing event and eventually wins, adding to the last day haul of the host team. PHOTO BY MANOLET SANTIAGO
    Dominant. Gina Iniong of the Philippines hovers over a fallen Agi Mingwan of Thailand in the finals of the -55kg women’s kickboxing event and eventually wins, adding to the last day haul of the host team. PHOTO BY MANOLET SANTIAGO

    Leading them was a historic triumph by the Gilas women in basketball, where they drubbed Thailand 91-71 to finally emerge as champs for the first time.

    Tracksters Eric Cray and Aries Toledo also shone, withCray copping his third gold in SEA Games history by retaining his 400m hurdles title, completing his redemption from disqualification in the 100m heats earlier in the week, and Toledo crowning himself the Games’ Iron Man with a big victory in the decathlon.

    Other Filipino bets in jiujitsu, shooting, squash, kickboxing and esports also added to the final-day gold rush, bringing to nine the host team’s victories for the day that brought their total to 146 and left the rest of the 11-nation field battling for, you guessed it, crumbs.

    Leading that pack, but just barely, was Vietnam, which won 14 golds built around seven golden performances in wresting and four in athletics to hike its total to 92.

    Just one gold away was Thailand, which harvested a whopping 24 golds Monday to wrest second-running spot but still relinquished it despite 10 more yesterday.

    With 71 golds, 10-time overall champion Indonesia was a far fourth, followed by Malaysia (53) and neighbor Singapore (52).

    Annie Ramirez topped the under-55kg and Adrian Guggenheim the under-77kg categroies to add to jiujitsu’s three other golds won Monday.

    Starting the day right was Caviar Napoleon Acampado, better known as EnDerr, who took home the gold medal for esports’ StarCraft II. This was the third gold medal for the country in esports after the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang team and Dota 2 secured gold medals over the past few days.

    Shooting also delivered its third gold, courtesy of Eric Ang, Carlo Carag and Alex Topacio, who teamed up for 338 points and an eight-point victory over the Malaysian squad in trap.

    Joseph Arcilla, Mikoff Manduriao, Dheo Talatayon, Noel Damian and Mark Anthony Alcoseba joined hands to beat their Thai counterparts 2-1 in the finals and complete a three-gold sweep in soft tennis.

    Bien Zoleta and her sister Bambi started the ball rolling for the Philippines by bagging the women’s singles and doubles golds last Saturday.

    Gina Iniong also threw in a gold in the under-55kg kick light division for kickboxing’s second gold of the meet, a contribution that would go higher should Jean Claude Saclag prevail in the under-63.5kg low kick final later in the evening.

    Failing in their own bid to win a first-ever gold were the male spikers, who got swept by Indonesia in their finals battle. But that loss should be atoned by Gilas Pilipinas in its expected title romp over Thailand as well as Rubilen Amit and Chezka Centeno in 9-ball doubles also later in the evening.

    The hosts are all set for big celebrations that are expected to spill over long after today’s closing ceremonies at the New Clark City Athletics Stadium in Capas, Tarlac.