(STAR) By Nelson Beltran Friday, November 30, 2007 BANGKOK – For Nathaniel “Tac” Padilla, his strong fifth-place finish in standard pistol yesterday augured well for an impressive outing in his favorite rapid-fire event today.

Padilla waged a searing rally from 15th place in the opening series and missed by the thinnest of margins the bronze medal – a performance that underscored his competitive form for the rapid fire which he has won four times in the past.

If Padilla lives up to expectation, Team Philippines could finally end its hunt for the first gold medal four days into the 24th Southeast Asian Games shooting competition at the Thai shooting range inside the Hua Mark Sports Complex here.

At press time, the well-funded and well-trained Singapore team led the medal race with five golds, four silvers and three bronzes followed by the host team with four golds, eight silvers and two bronzes.

The Philippines had two medals to show with a silver courtesy of the trap team of Eric Ang, Carlos Carag and Jethro Dionisio and a bronze produced by air rifle shooter Emerito Concepcion.

Padilla narrowly missed what could have been a third medal with 553 points in standard pistol, one short off the identical scores of third-placers Thai Sriyaphan Pruet and Vietnamese Hoang Xuan Vihn who later figured in a shoot-off to break the tie.

Local bet Karndee Prakorn took the gold with an average of 9.383 and a total of 563 while Singaporean Meng Peh Lip grabbed the silver with a series of 98-96-92-93-88-92 for 559. Hoang won his shoot-off with Sriyaphan for the bronze.

“I narrowly missed a medal but it feels good because I’m not expecting anything in this event. My training was focused on rapid-fire,” said Padilla, whose best finish in standard pistol was second.

“If anything, it’s a good warm-up for tomorrow,” added Padilla, determined to regain the rapid-fire championship he first won as a 15-year-old in 1979 and he last held in 1993 at 29.

But while Padilla charged all the way to the Magic Five from 15th place after a poor opening series of 89, teammates Robert Donalvo and Carolino Gonzales slipped to 13th and 14th on a scrambling finish.

The three combined for 1598 which was good for only fourth in the team competition topped by Thailand with 1657, followed by Singapore with 1646 then Vietnam with 1630.

After the 89, Padilla, getting tips from his father Tom Ong, made the right adjustments and tallied 95 in the second 150-second series, 94 and 91 in the 20-second series and 89 and 95 in the 10-second series.

“Good thing papa was there. He noticed that I was so careful to the extent I couldn’t pull the trigger,” said Padilla.

Gonzales and Donalvo, both newcomers in this event, had 94 each in the opening series but went up and down in the next frames.

Gonzales reeled with an 80 in the third, a 73 in the fifth and a closing 84, negating his two 94s and a 97. Donaldo’s line read 94-90-84-81-89-85.

Susan Aguado was also way off in the women’s 10m air pistol, shooting 92-89-89-94-364 for 11th place in the qualifying round topped by Thai Prucksakorn Tanyaporn with 93-96-96-96-381.

“No excuse, I had a poor showing,” said Aguado, a police officer failing to make the final in her two events in the games.

Gonzales and Donalvo again team up with Padilla in the rapid-fire team event while Edwin Fernandez, Eddie Torres and Rocky Pardilla vie for the 50m rifle prone team and individual crowns today.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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