MATI, OCTOBER 24, 2003 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran  - Barring last day mix-up in the medal tally as just what happened last year, Davao City will claim the third Mindanao Friendship Games overall championship today after weeklong brilliance in various fronts.

With Iligan City’s machinery conking out yesterday, Davao City, sustaining a steady onslaught on the other hand, zoomed farther away from the field as it practically settled the outcome of the fight for the overall crown in this meet among Mindanaoans.

At press time, the premier Southern Mindanao city was way ahead of the rest in the medal chart with 53 golds, 55 silvers and 42 bronzes. It has surpassed its harvest of 38 golds, 20 silvers and 18 bronzes last year in Cagayan de Oro.

Iligan City, Davao City’s chief rival, saw its rampage come to an abrupt end and practically kissed its hopes for the overall championship goodbye with a haul of only 29 golds, 21 silvers and 29 bronzes in the penultimate day of action in the games sponsored by Air Philippines, Samsung, STI, Centrum, Nestle Phil., Speedo, KIX Taekwondo, Pagcor, Rogemson, WG&A Super Ferry, PCSO, Philcom, Bachelor’s Express, Baygon, Burlington, Peak Sports and San Miguel Corp.

Davao City’s worry is a repetition of its sad experience last year when re-counting of the medals minutes before the closing ceremonies had Iligan City suddenly emerging the No. 1 team. Both Davao City and Iligan City are claiming here they’re the rightful winner of the Cagayan de Oro Games.

But having the same problem seems out of the question now with Davao City way ahead in the standing and all set to make a fitting climax in its torrid run with possible domination of the ballgames today.

Davao City produced more golds yesterday through its baseball team, eight-ball billiards player Romeo Timcang, 1,500m runner Roy Ocon, judokas Thirdy Yasser Escovilla (-92kg), Natasha Briosos (-52kg), Jennifer Ong (-70kg) and Ruth Duga Duga (-78kg), arnis artist Mario Palazuelo (middleweight) and cyclists Ruel Casaljay and Nitzel Montebon.

Having its most productive showing yesterday, host Davao Oriental leapfrogged to third place in the medal tally with 18 golds, 14 silvers and 34 bronzes. Its gold medal producers were pole vaulter Alvin Sahagun, discus thrower Nixon Mas and arnis artists Marino Tajore (half heavyweight), Ramer Bacasnot (heavyweight), Julius Acosta (half lightweight), Tanya Lauren Lontudan (lightweight), Suzette Endriga (half heavyweight).

Curiously, Davao Oriental won only three golds, four silvers and 10 bronzes in Cagayan de Oro last year.

As in the Cagayan de Oro Games, Tacurong made its presence felt in arnis while North Cotabato made its mark in judo.

Tacurong won six arnis golds courtesy of Aireen Parong (half middleweight), Janice Rendon (middleweight), Mary Joy Marollano (heavyweight), Acer Rael Jollero (extra lightweight), James Batoampo (lightweight) and Jelbert Zerrupo (half middleweight) while North Cotabato bagged two judo golds through Paolo Tancontian (-81kg) and Louie Abocayan (-100kg).

Other judo champions were Tagum City’s Anecia Pedroso (-57kg) and Panabo’s Lou Ann Trazo (-63kg) and Winnie Rose Cequina (-78kg). Also standing atop the arnis podium were Zamboanga City’s Steffanie Mangila (extra lightweight) and Cagayan de Oro’s Juditha Tipay (half lightweight).

In athletics, Malaybalay’s Cresenciano Sabal ruled the 10,000m run, Iligan’s Michelle Anne Tibagcay 400m for women, Zamboanga City’s Virfranz Sardea 400m for men, Malaybalay’s Jhamiludin Lucaman long jump, Tangub’s Junelou Marie Cabal 400m low hurdles, Ilocos Norte’s Hannah Sia discus throw, Compostela Valley’s Judelyn Miranda 1,500m, Agusan del Sur’s Charito Baguio high jump for women and Panabon’s Simon Tagaro high jump for men.

In table tennis, Cagayan de Oro and Lanao del Sur swept the men’s and women’s titles, respectively.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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