HANOI, December 14, 2003  (STAR) By Gerry Carpio (via Globe Telecom) ó The world-class bets from the ancient Chinese martial art of wushu, the surprisingly tough rowers in traditional boat race and the fancied basketball and chess teams delivered the last golds and the coup de grace on archrival Malaysia as the Philippines claimed fourth overall with 48 gold medals at the close of the 22nd Southeast Asian Games yesterday.

Arvin Ting, whose exploits included wins in the world championships early this year, showed class act anew in the broadsword with a runaway score of 9.33, relegating to second Vietnamese bet Truong Quoc Chi (9.26), who defeated Myanmarís Aung Si Thu (9.26) in the tiebreak.

The Filipinos won the last five golds staked in the final day of competitions and, counting the two wushu golds late Friday through Eduard Folayang and Dolly Andres, Team RP finished four golds ahead of Malaysia, which had 44.

The Filipinos had a total gold-silver-bronze count of 48-54-75 as they regained some measure of respect after finishing fifth ó the nationís worst ó two years ago in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with 31 golds.

Host Vietnam emerged the regionís new sports super power with 158 golds, followed by Thailand with 90 and Indonesia with 55.

Ting, at 16 the youngest on the wushu team, emerged as the fifth double gold medalist in the RP contingent after having won the cudgel event earlier.

The national team of grandmasters Eugene Torre, Joey Antonio, Bong Villamayor, international master Mark Paragua and national master Ronald Dableo delivered the third gold for chess at the expense of Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh.

The win also made Paragua the only three-gold medal winner in the 448-strong Philippine contingent following wins in rapid chess (individual and team).

The basketball team claimed its fourth and last victim, Malaysia, 90-61, and retained its basketball title with little opposition this side of Asia.

"Despite the difficulties that our athletes went through in their preparations, they competed with dignity and honor," said Philippine Olympic Committee president Celso Dayrit. "This only proves to everybody that Filipinos deserve no less than respect and admiration."

"From the start, the Filipinos gave their best, and they showed they can improve," he added.

At the West Lake in Hanoi, the RP menís team won the 500-m traditional boat race for the first time in the SEA Games. The team had a clocking of two minutes, 17.02 seconds, beating silver medalist Myanmar by only one-tenth of a second.

Of 28 sports the Philippines participated in, only fencing was able to regain overall supremacy with four gold medals against three of Vietnam.

The wushu team was second best with six golds behind Vietnam which corrnered 12. Willy Wang, also a gold medalist in the World Championships in Macau this year, was the second double gold medalist in wushu, winning the swordplay and spear play events

The other double gold medalists for the Philippines were Rexel Ryan Fabriga in 10m springboard diving (single and syncrhonized), Marcus Valda in wrestling (Greco Roman under 96 kg and freestyle under 96kg), Lee Van Corteza in billiards ((8-ball pool singles and 9-ball pool doubles) and Lenita Garcia in fencing (individual and team foil).

The wushu team emerged as the second winningest sport with six after athletics (eight). Taekwondo contributed five, fencing and wrestling four each, judo and chess three each, swimming, diving, billiards, and gymnastics two apiece and archery, boxing, cycling, basketball, shooting, karate, and traditional boat race one each.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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