HANOI, VIETNAM (via Globe Telecom), December 4, 2003  (STAR) By Gerry Carpio - — The Philippines pulled off big wins and some miracles here and in far-away Ho Chi Minh in its bid for early medal wins even as the host had yet to declare open its biggest ever international sporting spectacle in memory – as a divided, and recently, as a reunited country.

Juanito Magliquian gave the Philippines a bright start in its bid to regain boxing supremacy in the Southeast Asian Games by stopping his opponent, Mohd Ali Dzulfikri Hj Mohd Taib of Brunei, in the first round of their 45 kg bout at the start of competitions in Ho Chi Minh City, 1700 kilometers from here.

The win earned him a berth in the quarterfinals.

Fil-American Christopher Camat, dedicating the gold he dreams of winning this time to departed mentor Rene Fortaleza, former boxing secretary-general, assured the Philippines of its first bronze of the Games by crushing Vietnamese opponent, Bui Phu Sau, in the 75 kg late in the night to advance to the semifinals.

Camat won via RSC (Referee Stopped Contest) in the second round.

At the National Sports Training Center 25 kilometers off Hanoi, Florante Matan and Marvin Cordero, two young archers whose aim is to give the Philippines its first golds, and veterans Christian Cubilla and Arnold Rojas will try to give the Philippines an early breakthrough when the Round of 32 starts today.

Matan, who finished second in the eliminations, draws a bye in the round after the field was reduced to 30 when Singapore fielded only two entries.

Under the knockout format of the tournament, Matan, at 19 the youngest to win the RP Open this year, will not meet the top seed — Indonesia’s Kuswantoro, who led him by three – until the gold medal round if he hurdles all his opponents today and tomorrow.

Cordero was third in the eliminations while Rojas was eighth and Cubilla 11th.

The team, whose total of 3855 in the eliminations is a new RP record, is also expected to give the country’s bid for a 40-60 gold medal overall performance a big push as it steps into the finals as the top seed among seven participants.

That laid to rest the feelings of rejection yesterday on the women’s side where fancied Jennifer Chan lost a gripping quarterfinal round in the individual event by only one point. The team, however, hopes to recover, being the third seed in the women’s team final starting tomorrow.

At the Aquatic Sports Center here, the low-profile men’s polo team moved within two wins of gaining the silver after it crushed Malaysia, 12-5, yesterday. It ended the day tied with Indonesia and Thailand on 2-1 win-loss scores behind the 3-0 of Singapore.

The Filipinos try to pull the Indonesians out of the title race today and go for gold or silver against equally-tough Thailand tomorrow.

The water polo competition is a one-round event among six countries. The Philippines has the biggest chance to win the silver on a tiebreak because of its number of wins, which include 16 over Vietnam.

At the Hai Phong Dam Hinh stadium, football crazy Vietnamese gave the Philippine women’s team a big Haan Ho! Haan Ho! Haan Ho! (Hurrah!) when it opened the women’s competition Tuesday with a 0-0 draw with Malaysia.

It hopes to claim the second slot in Group A when it faces Indonesia, which is also contesting one of the two slots along with defending champion Vietnam.

While Magliquian and Camat had an easy first round assignments, others had mixed fortunes in the draw.

Violito Payla, competing in the flyweight class, goes into an early showdown with Thai Senit Jongjonor, while Francis Joven makes his SEAG debut against defending champion Manon Beunnong of Thailand.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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