Yulo triumphs, 2 golds for PHL

HANOI—Carlos Edriel Yulo emphasized the meaning of world champion that’s been twice attached to his name by ruling the men’s all-around of gymnastics for the Philippines’ second gold medal after Kurash on Friday in the 31st Southeast Asian Games.

The 22-year-old Tokyo Olympian put on a world-class performance worth 85.150 points to deny any hometown advantage for the hosts, whose bets Le Thanh Tung (84.050) and Dinh Phuong Thanh (82.450) completed the podium.

Yulo’s effort helped the Philippines to the team silver medal behind the Vietnamese, who are lording over the Games they are hosting for only the second time since 2003.

Jackielou Escarpe won gold from Kurash to keep the Philippine machine running for a potent bid to battle for the overall championship that Filipinos are defending on foreign soil.

Escarpe topped the men’s 73 kgs class after beating Thailand’s Apicha Boonrangsee to add to the gold medal won by 18-year-old Mary Francine Padios in pencak silat’s women’s seni (artistic or form) tunggal single event.

“All I’m thinking is how to perform well and I think we did well,” Yulo said.

Jackielou Escarpe (top, second from left) wins the country’s second gold medal this time in Kurash’s men’s 73 kgs after beating Thailand’s Apicha Boonrangsee (top left) on Friday in the 31st Southeast Asian Games at the Hoai Duc Stadium in Vietnam. Philippine Olympic Committee President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino (left) awards the medal to Escarpe.

The victory also qualified Yulo to the gold medal round of the six on Sunday and Monday.

“It’s not bad first day at all,” Gymnastics Association of the Philippines president Cynthia Carrion said. “But we’re expecting more, so much more actually.”

Her expectations for Yulo?

“Four golds,” she said without blinking.

Juancho Miguel Besana, John Matthew Vergara, Jann Gwynn Timbang and Justine Ace de Leon completed the Philippine men’s team which fell to Vietnam in team event.

Team Philippines scored 301.600 leading the field after the morning session but Vietnam stormed in the afternoon with an overall performance worth 321,250. Singapore placed third.

The Philippines was reeling at sixth place on the medal tally board until Escarpe and Yulo delivered the gold medals that sent Filipinos to fourth place behind a galloping Vietnam, whose gold count stood at 20 and counting.

Malaysia ran second in the gold medal race with 11, followed by Indonesia with five.

Thailand also had three gold medals but had less silver to stay behind the Philippines at fifth place. Singapore and Myanmar had two gold medals.

The Philippines could get its engine running on Saturday with triathlon set at the Sunset Bay in Tuan Chau.

After completing a big comeback against Thailand, the Gilas Pilipinas men’s squad suddenly sputtered and got scuttled by Indonesia, 13-15, on Friday in the 3×3 basketball.

The women’s squad also found a roadblock in its title-retention bid as the Vietnamese team powered by the Truong sisters who played NCAA Division I ball at Gonzaga University reared their dominant fangs.

With Kayleigh and Kaylynne Truong draining crucial two-pointers, the host team battled back from a 6-10 deficit and pulled the rug from under the Filipinas, scoring a stunning 21-18 win to the delight of the full-house crowd.

Still in shock, the foursome of Janine Pontejos, Afril Bernardino, Clare Castro and Angelica Surada found Thailand a tough nut to crack in their third and last match for the day, dropping a 14-21 decision for a 1-2 mark.

Starting the day with an easy 19-7 win over Cambodia, the quartet of Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, Marvin Hayes, Jorey Napoles and Raymar Caduyac needed to dig deep to score a 21-16 win over a battling Thai side.

The Thais surged ahead 12-7 but blinked when the Filipinos battled back, being limited to four points the rest of the way. Ganuelas-Rosser clinched the victory for Gilas with a driving lay-up.

Indonesia seemed to be an easy customer, having lost to Singapore 15-12 and Vietnam 10-22 earlier. But after taking a 10-9 lead, Gilas got outscored 5-1 and stared at an 11-14 deficit.

After Indonesia took a 15-13 lead with one second left, Ganuelas-Rosser missed a potential game-tying two-pointer, leaving the Filipinos with a 2-1 card for the day.

Action resumes Saturday with the Gilas Pilipinas men taking on Singapore at 9:40 a.m. (10:40 a.m. Philippine time), Malaysia at 12:20 p.m. (1:20 p.m. Philippine time), and Vietnam at 2 p.m. (3 p.m. Philippine time).

The women’s squad goes up against Singapore at 9:40 a.m. (10:40 a.m. Philippine time), Indonesia at 11:20 a.m. (12:20 p.m. Philippine time), and Malaysia at 1 p.m. (2 p.m. Philippine time).

Both Pinoy teams need to finish in the top four of their divisions to advance to the knockout semifinals. The finals will be held later in the day, with the Filipinos bidding to retain the gold medals they won in 2019 during the initial staging of 3×3 play.

Image credits: Nonie Reyes