NAY PYI TAW – Before Henry Dagmil left for the 27th Southeast Asian Games, he marked his 32nd birthday with his family.
A bigger jubilation now awaits Dagmil after he led a three-gold surge by Team Philippines on Sunday that raised its hopes of avoiding an all-time humiliation in the biennial meet.
Archand Christian Bagsit led a one-two PH finish in the 400-meter run and cyclist Mark John Lexer Galedo came up with a surprising victory in the 50-kilometer individual time trial to round out the day's heroes for an embattled Philippine delegation.
But it was Dagmil flashing his old form in his favorite event that resounded the most as it practically started the ball rolling, so to speak, for the Filipinos.
Dagmil, who reached his peak after back-to-back Games victories in 2005 and 2007, leaped to a distance of 7.80 meters in only his second try to quash the threat of 2011 champion Supanara Sukhasvasti of Thailand (7.71m) and Vietnam’s Van Lam Pham (7.53m).
Bagsit followed suit soon after, crossing the finish with a clocking of 47.22 seconds while teammate Edgard Alejan was close behind at 47.45s. Third was Edy Ariansyah (47.78).
"Malakas siya sa last 200 meters," related head coach Joseph Sy, "kaya ang naging strategy nila ay paunahin si Alejan para maubos ang hangin ng mga kalaban. Mula du’n, hahabulin na lang ni Bagsit."
Galedo, who could only bring home two individual bronze medals in his first SEAG stint two years ago, became an unlikely hero when he topped the race held at Mount Pleasant Cycling Field.
The small bike shop owner in Mandaluyong City submitted a time of one 1:07:00 and beat Indonesian rider Robin Manullang (1:07:38) and the other PHL entry, Ronald Oranza (1:07:50).
Embellishing a fruitful day for the PHL athletics team was the silver medal of Arniel Ferrera in hammer throw and the bronze medal of Riezel Buenaventura in women's pole vault.?
Sinag Pilipinas fashioned an 84-56 thrashing of Malaysia to complete a six-game sweep of the basketball competitions, but its 16th cage title in all would be formalized only in the sport’s closing ceremonies Monday.
That sure gold would go a long way in helping Team Philippines’ chase of Singapore, which currently holds sixth place with 15 golds to the Filipinos’ 10.
A finish lower than sixth would be the country’s worst since debuting in the Games in 1977.
Aside from the men’s basketball gold, Monday promises to be a productive day in other fronts for Team Philippines.
Eric Panique (marathon), Ernest John Obiena (pole vault), Lorelie Sermona (hammer throw) and Mervin Guarte (800m) try to come up with gold medals along with Narcisa Atienza in heptathlon.
Rowing competitions also get underway with Benjie Tolentino, Edgar Ilas, Alvin Amposta and Roque Abala trying to get their fair share of the first three gold medals up for grabs.
Swimming has Jessie Khing Lacuna, Jasmine Alkhaldi and Matt Navata taking part in the freestyle events, while GMs Eugene Torre and John Paul Gomez compete in the Chess 960 individual rapid.
Equestrian has Diego Eduardo Virata, Andrea Sophia Belofsky and Camila Isabel Lastrilla trying to make do with local mounts when they vie in team show jumping.
Dennis Orcollo barely made it past Ibrahim Amir of Malaysia, 9-8, on Sunday and will try to complete his domination of 9-ball singles in the remaining rounds.