The Philippines finally had arrived at a higher podium in the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games as wushu sanda fighter Arnel Mandal displayed superior take down defense and striking prowess, upending Avazbek Amanbekov of Kyrgyzstan in the semifinals of the men’s 56 kg. class on Wednesday evening.
Not as fortunate were compatriots Clemente Tabugara, Jr. and Gideon Padua, who settled for two bronze medals in their weight classes.
Tabugara landed power strikes but was outpinned by Indonesia’s Samuel Marbun in the 65 kg. category while Padua withdrew from his match versus Iran’s Shoja Panahigelehkoaei in the 60 kg. division due to injury sustained from his quarterfinal match.
It will be slam bang final for Mandal tomorrow as he will face hometown bet Jiang Haidong for the gold.
In tennis, three-time Grand Slam juniors champion Alex Eala won the first Asiad tennis medal for the Philippines since 2006, issuing a third set bagel versus Kyoka Okamura of Japan, 0-6, 7-5, 6-0 to set a semifinals affair against world number 23 Zheng Qinwen of China.
The world number 191 saved herself from a tiebreak in the second set, leveling Okamura with a beautiful winner of a down-the-line backhand slice.
Eala then scored 12 unanswered points to start the third set, negating Okamura’s first set bagel with Eala’s own.
The teenager likewise rolled hot in the mixed double nightcap as she and former Grand Slam juniors champ Francis Casey Alcantara scored the biggest upset in the Asiad tennis so far, ending top seed and world number 62/150 Yuki Bhambri and Ankita Raina of India, 6-4, 4-6, [10-8], in the third round.
The 14th seed Filipino tandem, hovering near the world top 500 in doubles, will next face Luksika Khumkum and Maximus Jones of Thailand.
Legends Cecil Mamiit and Eric Taino previously medalled for the Philippines in the 2006 edition and the last female tennis players to have medaled were Desideria Ampon and Patricia Yngayo in 1962.
In basketball, the women’s national team splashed from beyond the arc as spitfires Janine Pontejos and Khate Castillo combined for 12 triples to rout Kazakhstan, 83-59, to open Group B.
The men’s 3×3 team likewise lorded Group A with their third straight win, nipping Hong Kong, 21-15.
The country’s street skateboarders faltered bad though as women’s defending champion Margielyn Didal got sprained anew and wounded in last place in the final while Renzo Feliciano also finished last on the men’s side final.
In swimming, Xiandi Chua entered the finals anew but was only at seventh place in the 400 m. individual medley won by Yu Yiting of China.
In softball, the Blu Girls absorbed their first loss, a 0-7 heartbreaker versus China, for a 1-1 card in Group B while in men’s boxing, volume puncher John Marvin scored a technical knockout against Rabin Nepal of Nepal to enter the quarterfinals in the men’s heavyweight division.
The Philippines are currently at 27th place in the medal standing with four bronzes.
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