By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Olympian Kurt Barbosa, Rubilen Amit, and Eric Cray and delivered as expected metals as Team Philippines stayed on track on its target of finishing third at the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Barbosa, who was king of the finweight division in the regional biennial meet in the Manila 2019 edition, showed poise and deadly kicks to take down Thai foe Panachai Jaijulla, 16-7 in the battle for gold.
Barbosa thwarted home bet Ngoc Lam Duong of Vietnam in the quarterfinal, 31-10, and figured in a rematch against former silver medalist and Indonesian rival Reinaldy Atmanegara in the semifinal.
The 22-year-old Abra native jin edged Atmanegara with a razon-thin advantage of two points only, 44-42, en route to the gold medal match.
Meanwhile, Laila Delo settled for bronze in the women’s -67kg category after suffering a 21-12 beating at the hands of Silvana Lamanda of Indonesia.
Amit, on the other hand, outclassed Jessica Hui Ming Tan of Singapore, 7-2, to keep her women’s 9-ball title and pave way for a golden sweep in the 9-ball as Carlo Biado and Johann Chua arranged an all-Filipino final showdown after toppling their respective Singaporean rivals in the men’s side.
Amit raced to a 3-0 lead and held on despite Tan threatening at 3-2, but a dry break from the Singaporean allowed the Filipina sensation to win the next four racks en route to winning her fifth gold in the event.
Cray also extended his men’s 400-meter hurdles supremacy by capturing his fifth straight SEAG gold with a time of 50.41 seconds.
The pair of Rhichein Yosorez and Islay Erika Bomogao also reigned supreme in an otherwise anemic day for Team PH in the muay competitions.
Yosorez and Bomogao emerged victorious in the women’s waikru with 8.68 points, beating rivals from Vietnam (8.56) and Thailand (8.35).
Biado reasserted his mastery over Aloysius Yapp, 9-7, while Chua prevailed over Lian Han Toh, 9-3, to set up the gold-medal match Wednesday.
Over at the My Dinh National Stadium, Robyn Brown ran away with the women’s 400-meter hurdles bronze medal with a time of 56.44 seconds while William Morrison heaved 50.49m to claim the men’s discus throw bronze.
In fencing, the women’s foil team settled for the silver medal after bowing to Singapore, 33-28.
The men’s sepak takraw team also managed the bronze in the men’s regu event after losing its semifinal match against Malaysia.
In swimming, Miranda Renner shattered the national record in women’s 50-meter butterfly after topping the preliminary race.
In beach volleyball, the men’s team secured a place in the semifinal after beating Cambodia for a 2-0 card in Pool A.
Jude Garcia and Krung Arbasto downed Chuk Sophea and Thy Menghuong, 21-15, 21-16, while Ranran Abdilla and Jaron Requinton clipped Oem Narton and Som Samith, 21-14, 21-14.
They will face Vietnam Wednesday for the top ranking in their group.
Not so fortunate was its women’s indoor volleyball team, which succumbed to Indonesia, 25-23, 21-25, 25-15, 25-20, at the Dai Yen Arena in Quang Ninh.
The Nationals fell to a 1-2 record to slip at fourth, making their last match in the preliminaries against 2019 SEAG silver medalist Vietnam a crucial one.
The sepaktakraw team clinched its second victory at the expense of Myanmar, 2-0 to bolster its medal bid in men’s regu.
They earlier demolished Laos, 2-0.
Junior tennis sensation Alex Eala also started her campaign in the women’s singles on high note after trouncing Phonphatehep Philavong of Laos, 6-2, 6-1, to move into the quarterfinals.
The two-time Grand Slam Juniors Doubles champion will next face Singapore’s Lynelle En Tong Lim.
As of 6 p.m., the Philippines has amassed 33 golds, 35 silvers and 44 bronze medals at third place, with host Vietnam pulling away from the field with 91 gold, 57 silver and 58 bronze medals.
Thailand is at second with 36 golds, 38 silvers and 59 bronzes, while Singapore is at fourth with 26-29-31 (gold-silver-bronze).
Indonesia is fifth 25-36-33, followed by Malaysia (20-24-47), Myanmar (4-6-10), Cambodia (1-4-10), Brunei (1-1-1), Laos (0-1-13) and Timor Leste (0-1-0).