Filipino kickboxer in semi-final, diver misses podium in Hanoi

MANILA, Philippines — Kickboxer Jean Claude Saclag outscored Latxasak Souliyavong, 3-0, in the 63.5 kilogram lowkick event last night to secure himself a medal at the Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi.

Saclag’s win prevented a day one shutout for the kickboxers while boosting their chances of repeating their golden feat at the 2019 edition in Pasay City. He will see action in the semi-finals on Wednesday.

The beach handball team also scored a victory for Team Philippines after two other kickboxers and the lone diver failed to make the podium.

The Filipinos crushed the Singaporeans, 2-0, to improve to a 2-1 record (win-loss) and keep their medal chances in beach handball in Tuan Chau, Quang Ninh.

The Filipinos, who beat the Thais 2-0 last Friday but fell to the Vietnamese 0-2 the following day, lead the Vietnamese, who swept the first round in three matches, in the standings. But they could still catch up with the 2019 gold medalists if the former beat the latter in their second-round rematch tomorrow.

If that happens, it would bolster the Filipinos’ chances of bettering their bronze medal in 2019 and increase their chances of snatching the mint from the Vietnamese.

The kickboxers, poised to eclipse their three golds, two silvers and a bronze in the last edition, actually opened their campaign on a sad note after 2019 silver medalist Jomar Balangui fell to the Cambodia’s Rachnan Toch, 2-1, in the men’s 57-kilogram full-contact event to dash medal hopes for the first-place finisher at Bac Ninh Gymnasium.

Carlos Alvarez also succumbed to Vietnamese Huong Nguyen The, 3-0, in the 67 kg category, to say goodbye to his medal chances.

In diving, at the My Dinh Aquatics Center, Fil-Am Ariana Drake missed the country’s first medal at the Games as she finished fourth in the women’s 1-metre springboard.

Drake, 17, scored 207.15 and did not make the podium.

Malaysia’s Nur Dhabitah Bte Sabri won the Games’ first gold medal with a 290.45, finishing ahead of fellow Malaysian Kimberly Bong Qian Pin and Vietnam’s Ngo Phuong Mai with a 230 and 224, respectively for silver and the bronze.

Another kickboxer – Kurt Ludan (low kick -54kg) – was aiming for a spot in the semi-finals and a guaranteed bronze medal at press time.

Drake, a Californian who started out as a gymnast for eight years before switching to diving four years ago, earns another medal when she dives back into action on the 3m springboard tomorrow.

The Philippines women’s soccer team, for its part, is looking to build on the momentum of its historic FIFA World Cup qualification by taking on Cambodia tonight at 7 p.m. (Philippine time) in a match of the Group A at Cam Pha Stadium.

The Philippines are said to be without Chandler McDaniel due to an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury and Katrina Guillo due to club commitments, and are expected to rely heavily on Japanese stars Quinley Quezada and Sarina Bolden as well as skipper Tahnai Annis and Hali Long. .

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