DECEMBER 11, 2006
(STAR) By Dante Navarro - Flyweight Violito Payla crashed into the gold medal round with a devastating RSC-O (referee stopped contest-outscored) victory over Chinese Bo Yang, sustaining the RP boxersí solid performance in the Asian Games here even as three Filipino bets gained in other fronts to stay in the medal hunt but some fell by the wayside Sunday.

Hours after taekwondo jin Tshomlee Go and pool master Antonio Gabica added two more silver medals into RPís medal haul, Payla ensured another one, actually the countryís fourth counting jin Marie Antoinette Riveroís silver, fashioning out a victory that was as scintillating as the one dished out by Yang over reigning Asian and world champion Lee Ok Sung Thursday.

The 27-year-old Payla, a diminutive slugger with a big fighting heart, engaged Yang in a virtual brawl at center right from the start despite nursing a sprained wrist to the delight of the fans at the Aspire Hall 5, getting away with punches to the head and body that hurt the Chinese. The Filipino fighter took the round, 12-9. He In the second round, he put in another relentless attack that Yang failed to counter and Payla closed out the round on top, 16-8.

Frustrated, Yang chased Payla in the third and tried to land the big punch but the Cagayan de Oro native proved to be an elusive target as he danced away majority of the way while flicking away solid shot to the head to pile up a 40-20 lead before the referee stepped in with 45 seconds left in the round.

"Payla indeed played a spectacular fight but it is not yet time to rejoice," said boxing president Manny Lopez. "He will be up against a world champion and we have to study his opponent well because Payla lost thrice to him."

He was referring to Thai veteran Somjit Jongjohor, the defending champion here who also won the World Championships in 2003, the Asian crown in 2004 and the SEA Games title in Manila last year. Jongjohor earlier put away Japanese Katsuaki Susa, also via RSC-O in 50 seconds of the third round.

Payla hopes to become the third Filipino flyweight to win the division on Dec. 12. Ernesto Sajo won in Manila in 1954, the year boxing was introduced in the Games. Forty years later, Elias Recaido won during the Hiroshima Games.

Although Jongjohor has the psychological advantage, time might not be on the side of the 31-year-old Thai ace.

"I have fought him before and won. But Iím older now, so anything can happen," said Jongjohor.

The RP bets tried to make it happen late Saturday but Go bowed to superior foe in Kim Ju Young, 1-4, in the 62kg taekwondo final while Gabica squandered his bid against Japanese Satoshi Kawabata and lost what had appeared to be a gold medal winning game after taking a 7-5 lead in their race to 9 duel for the 8-ball menís singles crown.

Gabica was on the edge of knocking down the 8-ball for an 8-5 cushion but choked under pressure and missed, enabling the Japanese to steal the rack, sweep the next three and steal the gold medal.

Three more boxers are also fighting in the semifinals, assuring the country at least three more bronze medals.

Over at the Khalifa international tennis complex, Cecil Mamiit advanced into the menís singles quarterfinals following a 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Japanese Toshihide Matsui.

But Eric Taino lost to second seed Lu Ten Hsun, 6-7 (1-7), 2-6; Denise Dy was beaten by Thai veteran Tamarine Tanasugarn, 4-6, 5-7; and Czarina Mae Arevalo was ousted by Uzbekistanís Iroda Tulyaganova, 1-6, 1-6.

Gabica tried to atone for his setback in the 8-ball as he breezed to the round of 16 phase of the 9-ball singles with an 11-2 rout of Ibrahim Amir of Malaysia. Jeffrey de Luna, the other RP bet in the fold, was gunning for a quarterfinal berth against Tepwin Arunnath of Thailand at presstime.

Equestrian, which produced a surprise gold in Busan courtesy of Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, got going Sunday with three Filipinos inside the Magic 20 after the first qualifying phase.

Juan Ramon Lanza, aboard Donít Cry for Me, was in sixth place with four penalties, Danielle Cojuangco (Kidit Saint Clair) and Toni Leviste (Globe Platinum Just Jewels) were in 20th place with eight demerits apiece.

In the three-to-count team event, the Filipinos placed fifth with 20 total penalties, 16 behind pacesetting Saudi Arabia. The second qualifying is set Monday.

Over at the Qatar Bowling Center, Liza del Rosario and Marianne Daisy Posadas failed to make the stepladder finals of the womenís Masters event after placing 10th and 11th, respectively.

Del Rosario rolled the dayís second best score of 1872, but was hurt by her poor first block tally Sunday. She totalled 3363, 209 pins away from the finals.

Markwin Tee was still battling his way from the bottom standings in the ongoing menís Masters at presstime.

A medal slipped from the Philippinesí hands in athletics Saturday when long jumper Henry Dagmil fouled in his final attempt.

Dagmil, who trained in the United States for 10 weeks, was about to celebrate what could have been a silver effort. But officials notified him that he stepped on the line during takeoff.

As a result, Dagmil settled for fifth place in the event in 7.76 meters, way off the winning jump of Hussain Al Saba of Saudi Arabia who soared to 8.02 meters.

It was a sorry finish for the Southeast Asian Games champion who was hoping to break the eight-meter barrier and set a new national record which he himself holds at 7.83 meters.

Dagmil did 7.62, 7.58, 7.61, 7.74 and 7.76 in his first five attempts.

Joebert Delicano, the only other Filipino who saw action in athletics Saturday, pulled his hamstring on his fifth attempt and was helped off the field. He placed eighth with a jump of 7.56 meters.

Delicano needs two months of continued treatment and therapy before being allowed to train again, according to Dr. Alejandro Pineda.

Eduardo Buenavista, now concentrating in marathon, finished 12th in the 42-kilometer event, clocking 2:24:50, over 12 minutes behind Kenyan-born Mubarak Shami who won the event for Qatar.

Elsewhere, the Philippines continued to lag behind in chess and had mixed results in tennis. Filipino chessers lost to Kazakhstan, 1-2, with GM Ronald Dableo providing the lone victory at the expense of Grandmaster Murtas Kazhgaleyev.

After four rounds, the team has only 6 points to trail solo leader India by four points.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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