SINGAPORE, June 16 (PNA)-—The Philippines achieved the modest target it set for the 28th edition of the Southeast Asian Games, winning 29 gold medals to improved one notch up to sixth place in the overall medal tally.
And although bold predictions of gold medals that ranged from 41—the harvest in Nakhon Ratchasima—to the boldest of 50 were not met, Chief of Mission Julian Camacho was all praises of the 466 athletes who battled an opposition that has gone stronger each Sea Games.
“I am proud of everyone on Team Philippines, I am proud of all our athletes,” Camacho, also head of the national wushu federation, said.
“There are performers and non-performers, there were achievers and non-achievers, but all of our athletes did their best in these Games,” Camacho added.
The Philippines matched its gold medal output of 29 in Myanmar two years ago to finish a forgettable seventh place overall, but this time around, there were more silver medals here—36 to 34 in Myanmar—and much more bronze medals—66 to 38.
“Those are the numbers that make us think that despite the other countries being superior on how they spend for their sports programs, our athletes still fought them with all they’ve got,” Camacho said.
The Philippines closed out its campaign with the sweetest of all its victories here. Sinag Pilipinas, a team of collegiate stars backstopped by naturalized player Marcus Douthit, walked the tightrope for the second straight night and survived the pros of Indonesia, 72-64, to retain the men’s basketball gold medal.
It was no walk in the park for Keifer Ravena and company as the Indonesians, regulars on the regional professional tournament Asean Basketball League, gave the nationals the same scare that they got from Thailand, whom they narrowly beat, 80-75, in the semifinals.
No other gold medal was won on Monday and Tuesday for Team Philippines, which managed to sweep triathlon and softball, snatched one gold in cycling courtesy of a first-timer on the global arena Marella Vania Salamat and dominated boxing with all 10 boxers having gone home with a medal each—five golds, three silvers and two bronzes.
Philippine Sports Commission chairman Ricardo Garcia said predicting the outcome here was difficult because “the number of (gold) medals were dependent not only on the number of events but also the kind of events that were expected in these Games.”
“From the beginning, Singapore was putting more events (in their favor) while deducting from our potential sources,” said Garcia, pointing to floorball and netball where the hosts swept all of the three golds at stake.
There were a total of 402 gold medals staked in these games, less than the 461 offered on the Myanmar program and much smaller than the 554 Indonesia set when it played host—and emerged No. 1 with 182—in 2011.
The Singaporeans reigned supreme in swimming behind the phenomenal Joseph Schooling, who went 9-for-9, garnering 23 out of a possible 43 golds.
But their effort to run away with the overall championship still fell short.
Thailand emerged No. 1 anew with 95 gold, 83 silver and 69 bronze medals to be out of reach of the Singaporeans who still came out with their strongest finish in the Sea Games of 84-73-102 (gold-silver-bronze) harvest.
Vietnam switched places with Malaysia at third place from the 2013 games.
The Vietnamese garnered 73-53-60 while the Malaysians had 62-58-66. Indonesia, which the Philippines wanted to surpass, held on to fifth with 47-61-74.
Myanmar earned its 12th gold medal—in men’s doubles of sepak takraw at the expense of the Phippines—on Monday night to be at eight place with 26 silver and 31 bronze medals.
Laos (0-4-25), Brunei (0-1-6) and Timor Leste (0-1-1) brought up the rear.
The games came to a close with a three-hour program highlighted by the passing of the Sea Games flag from Singapore to the 2017 host Malaysia.
It ended with a dance party and another spectacular fireworks display at the enormous Singapore National Stadium.(PNA)