TUBOD, LANAO DEL NORTE, OCTOBER 30, 2003 (STAR) By Joey Villar - Davao Region unleashed a big surge in the team events yesterday to overtake Central Luzon and Northern Mindanao for the overall title in the secondary division as the Palarong Pambansa drew to a close at the Mindanao Civic Center here.

At distant third place after the penultimate day, Davao shouldered past its rivals as it copped the football and girls’ volleyball titles and an equivalent of 11 and six gold medals, respectively, overtaking Central Luzon and Northern Mindanao in one of the biggest reversals in Palaro history.

In the final count, Davao tallied a total haul of 43 gold, 39 silver and 24 bronze medals, edging Central Luzon’s harvest of 36 gold, nine silver and 20 bronze medals and Northern Mindanao’s 35-gold, 39-silver and 29-bronze medal count.

This marked the first time that Davao won the overall title in both the elementary and high school categories although it achieved the feat over a field minus the big city bets particularly the powerhouse National Capital Region, Western Visayas and Southern Tagalog.

"This is unexpected but we really prepared for this event dahil ilang beses na nga na-postpone ang Palaro pero tuloy pa rin ang ensayo namin," said Dr. Diamar Kadon, head of the Davao delegation. "It’s our preparation and support to our athletes that propelled us to the top."

Completing the medal tally were Zamboanga Peninsula (15-33-22), Central Mindanao (15-16-20), Bicol (12-14-21), CARAGA (8-8-30), Western Visayas (6-8-13), Cordillera Region (4-5-6) and Eastern Visayas (3-3-3).

Ilocos, Southern Tagalog’s Mimaropa and Calabarzon regions, Metro Manila and Central Visayas did not participate while the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao sent a token delegation on opening day but did not compete due to Ramadan.

After topping girls’ volleyball hours earlier, Davao leaned on a 3-0 smashing of Northern Mindanao in the football finals in what turned out as the delegation’s biggest triumph that decided Region 11’s fate.

Aaron Floyd Bantayan scored the first goal in the eighth minute, John Lloyd Antonio followed suit with a header in the 15th minute before Sylvester Sarco completed the rout with a 60th minute goal.

Central Luzon kept its position at second with wins in sepak takraw–equivalent to nine gold medals–and seven gold medals in archery while Northern Mindanao, the leader before the last day, slipped to third spot after its booters’ crucial setback to Davao.

Northern Mindanao, however, had to console itself with its awesome performance at the pool as it dominated the event thanks in large part to 14-year-old Monique Bacolod’s six gold haul.

Bacolod, who won seven gold medals in last week’s third Mindanao Games in Mati, Davao Oriental, was named as the most outstanding athlete.

In athletics, Jonson Lacanlade of Central Luzon and Aileen Tolentino of Northern Mindanao were the kings and queens of the tracks with three gold medals apiece. Lacanlade had the sprint doubles and 400-m run to boot while Tolentino topped the 400-m, 800-m and 1,500-m runs.

Making it a twin kill was it’s elementary team, which also came from behind to snatch the overall crown in the primary level of this annual multi-sports meet that was declared close by Congressman Imee Marcos (First District, Ilocos Norte) together with the Dimaporos–Governor Imelda and Congressman Abdullah–and Philippine Sports Commission chairman Eric Buhain.

Davao’s elementary boys and girls collected a total of 42 gold, 41 silver and 23 bronze medals, the bulk of which coming from an awesome 18-gold splurge in track and field, besting Northern Mindanao (33-33-29) and Zamboanga Region (33-33-29).

Rounding up the top 10 were Cotabato Region (12-4-19) CARAGA (8-6-12), Bicol (7-17-6), Eastern Visayas (4-6-20), Cordillera Autonomous Region (4-1-1), Central Luzon (2-5-3) and Cagayan Valley (0-1-3).

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved