RP needs miracle win to avoid worst-ever SEA Games finish

The Filipino athletes are headed for their worst-ever finish at the Southeast Asian Games (SEA) Games being held in Thailand – unless the remaining entries perform a miracle on Saturday, a report from the Phililppine delegation said Friday evening.

Cecil Mamiit came through on Friday by getting a gold in the the men’s tennis singles, but that was the only victory recorded by the Filipinos on that day. And shortly after that, the Filipinos found themselves relegated once more to sixth in the overall ranking.

Futile bids in practically all other fronts kept Team RP lugging a 40-gold total, just one behind Singapore, which copped two of its three gold for the day from sailing in Pattaya.

The Filipinos, who won the overall championship on home soil two years ago, now face the specter of recording their worst-ever finish since joining the biennial meet in 1977.

Team RP wound up fifth in 1999 and 2001. Now not even a fifth-place finish could be attainable for the Filipinos, who came here raring to defend the overall crown, only to switch to a more modest goal of third later on in the face of early and continuous surges by host Thailand, Vietnam, and of late Malaysia.

With a SEA Games record 168 golds, the Thais are all set to wrap up a glittering, albeit belated, present for King Bhumibol, who turned 80 a day before the Games formally opened December 6.

The Vietnamese, with 64 gold medals, are just barely ahead of the Malaysians. Indonesia is barely a threat, but seemingly safely ensconced at fourth with 53 wins.

The Filipinos athletes are deemed to have little chances of bagging any of the 12 golds at stake in the six final events they are joining on Saturday, the last day of this regional sports event.

The other remaining RP entries need to pull off at least another miracle, as Mamiit did on a near-blistering Friday morning.

The No. 2-seeded Filipino-American drubbed Thai top seed Danai Udomchoke, 6-3, 6-0, at His Majesty the King’s 80th Birthday Anniversary Tennis Center in Nakhon Ratchasima.

As if the sprinkling of Filipino fans were enough to give him additional strength, Mamiit teamed up with Eric Taino to down the Vietnamese squad of Do Minh Quh and Le Quoch Khanh, 6-3, 7-5.

The Filipino pair were to face Thai siblings Sanchai and Somchat Ritawatana, the No. 1 seed, in the finals.

The 31-year-old needs all the and strength and support he could muster on Saturday as he and Denise Dy will compete in the mixed doubles finals against the second-seeded Thai duo of Sanchai Ratiwatana and Napaporn Tongsalee.

Before the day is through but well before the closing ceremonies at the same venue’s main stadium, he will team up with Erick Taino in the men’s doubles semis later in the day against the Vietnamese squad of Do Minh Quh and Le Quoch Nanh.

No amount of strength or support could boost the RP bets in other fronts.

The best the RP judokas, karatedos, cue artists, sailors, traditional boat racers, windsurfers and divers could only come up with for the day were silvers.

The rest of the RP entries all had tales of woe, foiled in practically every turn.



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