Another tough day for Team Philippines at 17th Asian Games

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The Philippines endured yet another tough day at the 17th Asian Games here Sunday with its female boxers falling short of that one victory that would have guaranteed at least a bronze medal and its adored men’s basketball team failing to take advantage of a mathematical route to the semifinals.

The women’s golf team, which tantalized observers with a solid performance in the first round, couldn’t make up enough strokes to reach the podium while the men’s bowling team put up its finest performance so far but still could not hitch on to a medal.

Nesthy Petecio fell by unanimous decision to Yin Junhua of China in their lightweight duel after former world champion Josie Gabuco also lost by the same verdict to Le Thi Bang of Vietnam in their flyweight bout at Seonhak gymnasium.

It was a sorry loss for the game Filipino women, both of whom could have advanced to the semifinals with a victory.

Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga saved the team from a shutout as he dominated Japan’s Tosho Kashiwasaki en route to a unanimous decision in their flyweight duel.

Barriga advanced to the quarterfinals on Tuesday, where a win over Uzbekistan’s Hasanboy Dusmatov, will guarantee the country at least another bronze medal.

The women’s softball team also put up a fighting stand early at Songdo LNG Baseball Stadium, holding a 2-1 lead against Asian champion China at the bottom of the second inning with hitter Chen Jia facing two strikes with two outs and no runner on base.

But Chen got a hit off Veronica Belleza and pounced on a fielding error by Angelie Ursabia to get on base. Another hit by China put another runner on base before Wei Dongmei homered to give China a 4-2 edge. That was enough to deflate the Blu Girls, who went on to lose, 8-2.

“We can compete with them; we feel that we are at par with teams here,” said catcher Cheska Altomonte.

“We just did not have it all today,” said center fielder Dani Gilmore. “We didn’t hit well and our defense was pretty shaky.”

At Dream Park Country Club, Princess Superal made one final push with a spotless two-under 70, but it wasn’t enough to push the Philippines to a podium finish in the event where Southeast Asian rival Thailand scorched the fairways for a 38-under 538 in four rounds for the title.

South Korea, led by individual gold-medal winner Park Gye-ol, was seven shots off for the silver.

With Miya Legaspi managing a 74, the Philippines’ 571 was only good for fifth behind third placer China and Japan.

The Filipinos were, at one point, just two shots off the bronze but China put together an 11-under card to pull away.

“The breaks were not with us,” said Superal, whose total 284 was good only for 11th in the individual race.

At Anyang Hogye Gymnasium, the men’s trios finally came out strongly for bowling, but even that didn’t push the team to a podium finish.

Biboy Rivera, Frederick Ong and Kenneth Chua combined for 3,658 pinfalls, but that only gave the team an eighth-place finish.

Sunday’s results left the Philippine delegation moored at a two-silver, two-bronze medal count in this chilly port city.

Athletics chief Philip Ella Juico, the former PSC chair, has said that his squad could deliver a gold via long jumper Marestella Torres, who goes for broke Monday at Incheon Asiad Main Stadium.

“We are confident with Marestella; she is good for a gold medal,” said Juico.

The last Asian Games in Guangzhou, however, left bitter memories for Torres, whose foul-plagued attempts left her out of the podium and forced her to tearfully admit she was considering retirement.

Also hopeful of a medal finish here is taekwondo.

The team’s coach, former star athlete Roberto Cruz, feels that “it’s time” the Filipinos won an Asiad gold. Cruz is banking on Asian Youth Games winner Pauline Louise Lopez.

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