HANOI, Vietnam — The Philippines kept itself in play for a decent finish in the 31st Southeast Asian Games on Sunday as gymnastics provided three golden moments behind Carlos Yulo and Filipino-American recruit Aleah Finnegan.
Likewise, wushu, duathlon and athletics also delivered the medal color that mattered the most.
Yulo starred in the floor exercise and rings, and fell off the pommel horse, but Finnegan’s triumph in the vault slightly eased the pain of the mishap.
Agatha Wong and Arnel Manila accounted for wushu’s twin contributions while Kim Mangrobang glowed in duathlon and Willie Morrison threw his weight around in shot put.
The key victories shoved the defending champion to third place in the medal standings with a tally of 19-22-33.
Running first and seemingly on its way to the summit barring unforeseen circumstances is Vietnam, which is inching closer to half of its initial target of 140 gold medals.
The host, as of press time, had a 56-41-41 collection while Thailand was a distant second with 20-19-39.
The marquee sports of basketball and boxing take the stage Monday with the preliminaries.
The heavily-favored Gilas squad battles Thailand, a squad that will be beefed up by members of the triumphant 3×3 team, in its debut.
The Filipino cagers, parading a galaxy of stars from the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), are the defending champions.
On the team are six-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, Matthew Wright, Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario and Mo Tautuaa.
The Ravena brothers — Kiefer and Thirdy — are also eager to make heads turn.
The boxers, meanwhile, will have Tokyo silver medalist Nesthy Petecio and bronze medal winner Eumir Marcial as their best bets for the gold.
Apart from the two big guns, the team also has veteran Rogen Ladon, who subbed for another Olympic silver medalist, Carlo Paalam.
The Philippine contingent here is being supported and assisted by the Philippine Sports Commission, whose staff has been ably attending to the needs of the delegation members round the clock for the past ten days.