NAY PYI TAW – The vaunted taekwondo squad failed to come up with the desired finishing kick Friday as Pauline Louise Lopez and Paul Romero could only cop a bronze medal each in their respective events in the 27th Southeast Asian Games.
Lopez lost to Thanh Thao Nguyen of Vietnam, 0-4, in the women's under 53kg category, while Romero surrendered a 4-6 decision to Ryan Chong Wu Lunn of Malaysia in the men's under 63kg semifinals Friday at the Wunna Theikdi Stadium here.
Ma. Isabelle Mora, meanwhile, bowed to Phanappa Harnsujin of Thailand, 0-13, in the women's under 49kg to bomb out without a medal.
A gold medalist in the Asean Taekwondo Championship in 2008, Romero jumped to an early start as he connected a kick in the Malaysian's face.
But his foe retaliated, unleashing a head kick before scoring on another hit on the chest to knot the count at 4-all in the second round.
Then, Lunn planted a side kick and nailed another one at the body, prompting Romero to chase him in the dying moments of the third round in a desperate bid to turn things around.
“He was very aggressive. However, the counter attacks of that Malaysian were lethal,” said Philippine taekwondo coach Dindo Simpao.
And just like Romero, Lopez also suffered the same fate as her aggressiveness was perfectly neutralized by Thanh, who connected several lightning-quick kicks to her body.
“She's always on the attack but Pauline got hit in the body several times,” said Roberto Cruz, who mentors Lopez -- the gold-medalist in the 2nd Asian Youth Games four months ago.
With that, the Filipino jins have only two gold medals courtesy of Jade Zafra in the women's under 57kg and the men's poomsae team composed of brothers Djustin and Raphael Mella and Vidal Marvin Gabriel.
There's still hope, however, as five jins -- Mary Angelay Pelaez, Kristie Alora, Jane Narra, Francis Agojo and Kristopher Uy – step into the mat on the final day of taekwondo hostilities on Saturday.