Filipinos hold court as basketball team wins SEA Games title
by James EDGAR
The Philippines men’s basketball team won their 13th consecutive Southeast Asian Games title on Tuesday night with a dominant display against Thailand as the biennial sporting extravaganza draws to a close.
After 10 days of competition since President Rodrigo Duterte and boxing legend Manny Pacquiao officially kicked off the biggest-ever SEA Games last Saturday, the host nation sits atop the medal table with 149 golds, ahead of Vietnam on 96 and Thailand on 92.
The basketball-loving home crowd at the MOA Arena expected their team to add to the Philippines’ golden haul — already their best ever — and the team delivered in style winning 115-81 to make it a run of 18 wins in 20 events since 1977.
They were boosted by the women’s team who earlier beat Thailand 91-71 in their final round-robin match to claim the gold medal in Manila.
In the final of the men’s football tournament, Vietnam cruised their way to the title with a routine 3-0 win over Indonesia.
The Golden Dragons, who went into the gold medal match as firm favourites, were rarely tested at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in the capital.
Tuesday was the last major day of competition at the SEA Games which has seen thousands of athletes from 11 countries compete in a record 56 sports in venues across Clark, Manila and Subic.
It was a rocky start for the 30th edition of the Games, with organisational gaffes, a presidential apology and deadly Typhoon Kammuri forcing cancellations, but the schedule got back on track.
Only the last remaining beach handball games were to be played in Subic on Wednesday ahead of the closing ceremony in New Clark City.
In the final night of athletics at the new, 20,000-seat stadium in Clark, Vietnam won golds in both the men’s and women’s 4 x 400m relays, while Nguyen Thi Huyen took the women’s 400m hurdles title.
Filipino decathlete Aries Toledo finished top after a gruelling schedule of 10 disciplines to claim gold for the home nation and compatriot Eric Cray won the men’s 400m hurdles.
The last gold medal for eSports, which was being contested for the first time at an Olympic-recognised multi-sport competition, was awarded to Thailand on Tuesday night, following a victory over the Philippines in the fighting game Tekken 7.
The host nation won golds in team battle games Dota 2 and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, and Caviar Napoleon Acampado came top in the science fiction strategy game Starcraft II.
Malaysia’s Yew Weng Kean won the card game Hearthstone, while Arena of Valor was won by Thailand’s team.
Earlier the Philippines men’s volleyball team were outclassed by Indonesia, losing in the final in the capital 3-0, and it was a one-two for Vietnam in the men’s open water 10km swimming event in Subic, as Tran Tan Trieu beat Nguyen Huy Hoang by two minutes in a time of 1hr 53 mins 31 secs.