BAC NINH, Vietnam — The Philippines is under threat of being pushed down the leaderboard as its gold medal drive dropped Thursday even as boxing ramped up its bid in the 31st Southeast Asian Games.
Bowling and judo were the surprise gold producers with the team-of-four led by single gold medalist Merwin Tan and judoka Rena Furukawa gave the Philippines a minor lift in the leaderboard.
As of 6:30 pm, the Philippines was carrying a medal tally 40-54-76, locked at third spot alongside Indonesia (40-59-54) and Singapore (40-40-52).
Vietnam has run away with the overall crown as it already succeeded in winning its target of 140 top finishes. The host country boasts of a 140-85-77 count while Thailand is a distant second with 58—64-89.
A late gold from esports on Thursday kept the Philippines standing on soft soil and with three competition days left, the race to join Vietnam and Thailand on the podium gets tighter and tighter each passing day.
Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Eumir Marcial mauled Thai foe Peerapat Yeasungnoen en route to a second-round RSC to make the gold medal match against Timor Leste’s Delio Anzaqeci Mouzinho in a battle of heavy-hitters.
Marcial, who has fought twice as a professional, was too powerful and experienced for the Thai, whose seconds had to throw the towel into the ring to signify surrender at Bac Ninh Gymnasium, some 40 kilometers from the capital of Hanoi.
A heavy barrage had the Thai on spaghetti legs, forcing the Malaysian referee to call a halt to the massacre.
Earlier, Marcial forced the third man on the ring to issue a standing-eight after a flurry from the Filipino southpaw rattled and hurt Yeasungnoen.
Flyweight Rogen Ladon assured himself of at least a silver after scoring a points win over Thanarat Seangohet.
The southpaw Ladon was pushed to the limit by the rangy and lightning-quick Thai, who raised his arm in victory when the bell sounded thinking that he had the fight in the bag.
But it was Ladon’s hand that was raised and he will go for gold against Vietnam’s Tran Van Thao during Sunday’s final bouts.
While Ladon and Marcial advanced, a gassed-out James Palicte was not as fortunate after being beaten by Indonesian Farrand Papendang in their lightweight tiff.
Boxing is a perennial source of gold medals in the SEA Games.
In fact, when the Philippines hosted the biennial sportsfest in 2019, the hometown fighters got the overall crown with seven gold medals.
There were near-misses for the gold in athletics, men’s team rapid chess and judo.
Christine Hallasgo had to settle for silver in the women’s marathon while Kesei Nakano and John Ferrer also lost their gold medal matches.
There was a bit of an overflow of bronze medals with canoe-kayak, chess, archery, weightlifting, gymnastics, taekwondo and karate combining for ten.
In the previous SEA Games, the Philippines captured the overall title with 149 gold medals.