THE Philippines is assured of its first medal in the Southeast Asian Games even before the formal start of the biennial showpiece.
Kickboxer Jean Claude Saclag won his quarterfinal match against Souliyavong Latxasak of Laos at the start of his title defense in the men’s low kick -63.5 kilograms to be assured of at least a bronze medal for Team Philippines.
Kickboxing is one of the first events to kick off competition in the Hanoi Games, with the final day of competitions to be held on May 13, a day after the opening ceremony of the regional showcase.
Saclag, an MMA practicioner with Team Lakay who also won an Asian Games bronze in wushu back in 2014, proved to be the saving grace of the Philippine campaign in Day One of kickboxing.
Carlos Alvarez lost to Nguyen The Huong of Vietnam, 3-0, in the full contact men’s -67kg.
Jomar Balangui also missed out on a medal with a defeat to Toch Rachhan of Cambodia, 3-0, in the full contact men’s -57kg. Balangui was the silver medalist in 2019 but in the lower weight category of 54kg.
Kurt Lubrica was defeated by Sungnot Chaiwat of Thailand, 2-1, in the men’s low kick -54kg category.
In other events, Ariana Drake showed promise in her national team debut, as the 17-year-old Fil-American from Los Angeles placed fourth in the women’s one-meter springboard.
Drake scored 207.15 points, missing a podium finish by 16.85 points. Nur Dhabitah Bte Sabri of Malaysia bagged the first gold of the SEA Games by winning the event.
The men’s beach handball team defeated Singapore to improve its card to 2-1 win-loss in the preliminary round.
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