INCHEON, South Korea: Paul Dela Cruz saved the day for Team Philippines by claiming a bronze medal in archery as Gilas Pilipinas suffered another heartbreaking loss in the 2014 Asian Games here.
Gilas Pilipinas formally bowed out of contention after a nerve-wracking 95-97 defeat to host South Korea in the quarterfinals at the Samsan World Gymnasium.
The Filipinos dropped to 0-2 while the South Koreans grabbed the solo lead in Group H with a clean 2-0 card. They will face Kazakhstan at 3:15 p.m. (2:15 p.m. in Manila) in a no-bearing game today. Kazakhstan (0-1) and Qatar (1-0) were scheduled to play late Saturday. Only the top two teams will advance to the crossover semifinals.
“I have to commend my boys. They came out and fought hard. We fought up to the very end but unfortunately we came up short. I want the entire responsibility fall on my shoulder. I would like to apologize to our people I know there were a lot of expectations in this competition, unfortunately we were not able to live up to it,” said Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes.
Team captain Jimmy Alapag had a sterling performance, banging in 25 points while LA Tenorio delivered 20, Jeff Chan added 16 and June Mar Fajardo chipped in 12. Naturalized player Marcus Douthit did not play due to disciplinary action.
“We benched Marcus Douthit for disciplinary reasons. Simple as that,” Reyes said.
Moon Taejong fired 38 points on 6-of-8 three-point shooting clip and 10-of-10 from the free throw line for South Korea while Cho Sungmin and Kim Taesul backed him up with 17 and 16 markers.
Gilas Pilipinas actually nailed a 16-point lead on Gabe Norwoods’ jumper, 65-49, but the South Koreans behind the efforts of Cho, Moon and Kim unloaded a 22-7 bomb to cut the lead to just a single point, 71-72, going into the final quarter.
Dela Cruz, however, provided a reason to celebrate as he earned the country’s fourth medal. He placed third in the men’s individual compound event by edging Mahazan Muhammad Zaki Bin of Malaysia, 140-139, in their bronze-medal match at the Gyeyad Archery Field. Esmaeil Ebadi of Iran took the gold while Abhishek Verma of India pocketed the silver.
The Philippines now has two silvers and two bronzes. Wushu artists Daniel Parantac and Jean Saglac won the first two silvers and another wushu bet Francisco Solis grabbed the other bronze medal.
Dela Cruz, Earl Benjamin Yap and Ian Patrick Chipeco, on the other hand, placed fourth in the men’s team event as it succumbed to the Iranians, 224-227, in their bronze-medal match.
In boxing, reigning world champion Josie Gabuco outplayed Taiwanese Yu Ting Lin, 2-0, to advance to the quarterfinals of the women’s flyweight division. The two judges both scored it 39-37 for Gabuco while the third judge had it 38-38.
So far, there are three Filipinos in the quarterfinals. Lightweight Charly Suarez and bantamweight Mario Fernandez are the first quarterfinalists after posting victories over Akhil Kumar of India, 2-1, and Puran Rai of Nepal, 3-0, respectively.
Former World Championship gold medalist Blu Girls started its bid on a high note by nipping host South Korea, 3-1, in the softball competitions.
In tennis, Filipino-Americans Treat Huey and Ruben Gonzales suffered a 0-6, 3-6, loss to South Koreans Hyeon Chung and Yongkyu Lim to bow out of contention in the men’s doubles.