An old, familiar foe frustrated Kirstie Alora and the Philippines’ drive for a strong finishing kick, one who emerged victorious in the 29th Southeast Asian Games taekwondo competition at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center in Malaysia
Sorn Seavmey of Cambodia used her height, length, and experience to the fullest to re-assert her mastery over Alora, 13-6, to cop the gold medal of the women’s -73 kg division.
Teammate Francis Aaron Agojo also went down, falling behind early and absorbed a 17-30 beating from Vietnam’s Nguyen Van Duy in the men’s -63 kg. semifinals to settle for the team’s third bronze medal.
Agojo went for broke in the waning seconds of the final round, trying to knock out his Vietnamese rival, who wisely evaded the Pinoy jin’s attempts at frittering the time away to advance to the finals.
A competitor in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and flag-bearer in this year’s biennial meet, Alora was the aggressor early on, but found herself trailing in the third and final round, 3-6, as the Cambodian, a gold medalist in the Incheon Asian Games in 2014, dominated her with crisp attacks and solid defense.
“Siguro kulang po ng follow-ups. It’s a good fight I did my best. No regrets,” said the 27-year-old Alora, who also lost last year to the Cambodian in the Asian championships in Manila and in the semis of the Incheon Asian Games four years ago.
Not one to often question the officiating, Alora was beside herself over some of the referee’s calls that penalized her.
“Ewan ko about the officiating per sa unang round and second round alam kong lamang ako lamang ako,” noted the two-time SEA Games gold medalist, who was fighting in a lower weight class together with the Cambodian. “I had about five gamjeoms (penalties) and that did not help me.
“Usually nagtatapat kami sa finals, and we might do so again in the AIMAG (Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games),” added Alora.
The Filipino jins closed the four-day tourney with two golds, two silvers, and three bronzes, a result that is much lower than their tally of 3-3-2 in the Singapore SEA Games two years ago.
Story from PSC-POC Media Group
Tough ordeals make historic gold worth it for Ice Hockey Team
Nothing worth it comes easy
And sometimes, the rougher the road, the sweeter the reward is. This is the story of the inaugural Southeast Asian Games men’s ice hockey champions Team Pilipinas.
Last year, the Malaysian SEA Games Organizing Committee announced that they would include ice sports figure skating, short track speed skating, and ice hockey in the program of this year’s Games.
Of course, the excitement was huge for the nation’s young ice hockey squad.
“I just joined the team recently, about a year and a half ago. I went to the Philippines two years ago. I was born here, but I grew up in Canada,” shared Filipino-Canadian Paul Gabriel Sanchez. “Just the fact that people here are playing hockey is a surprise itself.
“The fact that we’re going to Japan for the Asian Winter Games and for the SEA Games, was just unbelievable. Even when we got there, seeing the scale of the SEA Games was just amazing.”
With day jobs and mall hours of SM Megamall and Mall of Asia getting in the way of their preparation, the squad had to make do with what they were given. The forward shared, “We just built on what the team had. Everyone is passionate about hockey. And if you are passionate about a sport, it brings you a long way.”
“What we really worked on those two years, in that short little time was becoming a team.”
Thus, they really bonded on and off the ice. Such unity is important because, “Hockey is a very tough sport. So if you are not ready to sacrifice your body for your teammates, you won’t have a successful tournament.”
The Fil-Canadian almost missed the chance to help the squad, as organizers had initially ruled him ineligible. When the scorer learned about it, he was frustrated. “Even when I was on to Kuala Lumpur on the airport, I didn’t know if I was gonna play. In our first practice, I still didn’t know. We had a motion for an appeal. It was until the end of the practice when I found out that I can play.
“Honestly, it was not a relief. I was actually angry,” Sanchez admitted. “I just wanted to play. So, if anything, I had more motivation to work hard.”
That motivation was evident, as Sanchez and the squad cruised past Indonesia and Singapore in their first two matches. The same determination pulled them past Malaysia.
The Nationals once again had to deal with a huge problem just to fend off the hosts. Just minutes into the first period of the said match, captain John Steven Fuglister was meted a game misconduct penalty which disqualified him from the game.
The skipper recalled, “It was an unfortunate accident. I was going for the puck, and the guy made a last-minute turn and I hit him. I unfortunately hit his head, though it was not intentional.”
After the call, the team was in disarray. But at that stage, they simply needed to keep fighting.
“There was a lot of emotions. Our captain was kicked out of the game. We have to deal with that. Wee have to deal with the crowd,” Sanchez reflected. “And actually I have never played in a crowd that raucous the whole time. I enjoyed it; some might be nerved by it. In the end, I am happy that we got the win.”
It was a nervy end of the match against the Malaysians, as after the Filipinos led 4-1, the hosts grabbed the lead at 6-5. Sanchez then took charge and scored the next two goals to get the Nationals back on top.
He narrated, “I was mad at myself because I had the puck before they had their sixth goal. Luckily I scored the next goals and I scored again in the shoot out.
“I hate losing,” he emphasized. “I can’t stand losing. So, I work as hard as possible. Just focus and know what I do in training will help in our wins.
“Every time you hesitate in hockey, which is a fast sport, you commit a mistake. So, if you focus on your instincts it helps a lot.”
The technical committee had also decided to suspend Fuglister in the final match against Thailand. The captain tried to appeal his case, but to no avail.
He shared, “The PSC and the chef de mission made an appeal to the Malaysian Arbitrary Court. I had to go in front of four judges, but it didn’t work out. They stuck with their decision.”
Nonetheless, the competitive fire in the Philippine men’s ice hockey team members fueled them enough to stun the favored Thais and, consequently, snare that first-ever major gold for the upstart side.
No one is as proud as the Filipino-Swiss captain, who had to watch from beside the bench. Fuglister said, “We played our game. We played a fast, hard skating game that was enough to beat Thailand.
“Lots of heart and lots of fight in the sixty minutes.”
Getting that historic mint bodes well for a team, who were once unheard of by almost every Filipino. Not only are they slowly getting exposure and creeping into the country’s consciousness, the team is building on the win to enter more competitions.
Fuglister, Sanchez, and the rest of the squad are ready to soar in next year’s Challenge Cup of Asia, their first-ever in Philippine soil. And they vow to do an encore of what they did in Malaysia.
NCAA honors student-athletes that competed in SEA Games
The NCAA has always produced athletes that have represented the country well. And the tradition continued during the recently-concluded 29th Southeast Asian Games.
During the halftime festivities of the NCAA Season 93 All-Star Game, the Grand Old League recognized the student-athletes from each school that gave honor to the country in the regional meet.
For the JRU Heavy Bombers, silver medalist in triple jump Mark Harry Diones led the cast. Melvin Calano, athletics coach Jojo Posadas, and netball assistant coach Jose Serrano were part of JRU’s representatives.
Larong Volleyball ng Pilipinas Inc. president Peter Cayco was honored by Arellano together with trackster Immanuel Camino and football player Roberto Corsane Jr.
SEA Games gold medalist in hockey Miguel Serrano led the Perpetual contingent together with spikers Relan Taneo and Jack Kalingking, and trackster Francis Medina. Coaches Sandy Rieto and Sammy Acaylar and POC board member Jeff Tamayo were also recognized.
Mapua, on the other hand, were represented by Sean Guevarra and coach Edgardo Alejand, while San Sebastian handed the national team with Melvin Guatre (athletics).
Lyceum also had a hand in the Philippines’ haul. Ice hockey gold medalist Daniel Pastrama led the Pirates delegation with Ronne Malipay (athletics – long jump), coach Popoy Clarino (football), and Ruperto Zaragosa (golf).
Letran trackster and bronze medalist Christian Bagsit gave honor to the Knights together with coach Brian Esquibel and Ronald Dulay (volleyball).
Rounding up this batch of NCAA representatives in the SEA Games were Benildeans Ryan Jacolo (table tennis), Aresa Lipat (swimming) and SEA Games 4x100M bronze medalist Anternee Lopena.
Overall, the NCAA helped give the country a gold, a silver, and two bronze medals.
Alyssa Valdez on humbling SEA Games experience, future plans
At this point in her career, there’s nothing more that Alyssa Valdez wants than to play for the Philippines.
Fresh from another stint with the National Team in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia, the four-time PVL MVP spoke of a pivotal point in her career.
“It was really a learning experience. I can say it was one of the turning points of my career,” Valdez told Tiebreaker Times. “It really challenged me as an athlete and as an individual, on and off the court.
“I’m just really happy na I was given the privilege to go through that challenge with that team and group of people.”
The 24-year-old, more than ever, is focused on improving as a volleyball player to advance her career and garner more National Team nods.
“It was a different challenge. Before, I had commitments sa school, now I’m really looking forward to just represent the country. ‘Yun siguro ‘yung nag-iba sa mind-setting. Iba ‘yung focus ngayon.”
The former Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagle, however, realizes that it will take a united effort from everyone in Philippine volleyball to improve their fourth-place finish in the recently-concluded SEA Games.
“Sana, pagdating ng 2019, wala na tayong excuses na we had limited time to prepare.
“Sana we’re all ready, we’re all prepared to really win and fight for our country. The whole team feels this way talaga. We’re really looking forward to seeing each other more often to train and to be able to make a statement na we’re really serious about winning for our country,” the two-timee UAAP champion stressed.
As for her immediate playing future, Valdez has several offers lined up from foreign club leagues. She still has a standing offer from 3BB Nakornonnt in the Thailand Volleyball League where she played earlier this year. She also revealed that she was speaking with Chinese Taipei.
“As of now, I’m talking with Chinese Taipei.
“Pero, last time I was in Thailand, nagtanong din sila if I’m willing na bumalik. Wala pa namang final decisions. We’re all thankful for all these blessing na pumapasok,” Valdez said.
For now, hashing out her schedule is the upmost priority. Valdez is taking the National Team into consideration as well her mother team, the Creamline Cool Smashers, so as to avoid conflicts.
“I’m talking to my managers pa din kasi may offers feom ibang countries din,” she shared.
“Creamline din ‘yung mother team ko sa kailangan din nila malaman. We’re really talking about it to fix our schedule para maganda ‘yung calendar natin talaga.”
Kobe Paras takes home first SEAG gold 30 years after Benjie did so
Back in 1987, Benjie Paras was an elated 19-year-old Filipino cager. He had every reason to celebrate though, as he had helped the Philippines bag one of their many gold medals in men’s basketball in the Southeast Asian Games.
Three decades later, another Paras bagged a SEA Games basketball gold — Benjie’s son, Kobe, who served as a huge boost for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2017 edition of the regional meet, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
And for Benjie, now 48, he could not be prouder of his son, for being able to replicate one of his achievements in his illustrious 14-year career.
“Masaya of course na nagkaroon ng legacy yung Paras clan,” said the PBA legend to Tiebreaker Times, after the Chooks-to-Go-hosted homecoming lunch for Gilas and Nikko Huelgas, Thursday at the Marco Polo Ortigas in Pasig.
Even the 19-year-old sensation, who will fly back to the United States tonight to continue his studies at Cal State-Northridge, could attest to how proud his dad was after learning that he had won his own SEA Games gold medal.
“Nung nanalo kami sa Indonesia, my dad called me right away. Nagbiro siya na (expletive), may medal na tayong gold,” shared Kobe with a grin.
“It just feels good na nagawa ko yung nagawa niya noong age ko dati.”
Clearly, the dad-and-son tandem are now SEAG champions. But for Benjie, he still hopes that his son can emulate some other achievements from his heydays. His wish, for now, is to see Kobe play in the 2018 Asian Games.
“Hopefully if ever he’s going to play in the Asian Games next year, [that would be] exactly (28) years also that we won the silver,” said the only PBA Rookie-MVP, recalling the 1990 Asiad in Beijing where hosts China won the gold.
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