HANOI – With singles gold medalist Merwin Tan leading the way, the men’s bowling team sparkled Thursday, adding a second victory to the Philippine campaign in the 31st Southeast Asian Games here by ruling the team-of-4 event.
Three days after Tan ended the country’s golden drought in bowling in the biennial games, the Philippine flag was raised and national anthem heard anew at the Royal City Hanoi Bowling Lanes as the Pinoy keglers dominated action, finishing with 5275 pinfalls, 113 pins ahead of runner-up Malaysia.
The gold was the Philippines’ 39th overall, counting the mint delivered by the women’s squad in the Wild Rift event of esports late Wednesday.
Tan, a 22-year-old left-hander, rolled 1411 pinfalls for a six-game average of 235.17, the best among all the 24 competitors in the six-team field, while Christian Dychangco backed him up with 1377 pinfalls and an average of 229.50, including a tournament-high 278 in the sixth and final game.
Ivan Malig carded 1285 pinfalls for an average of 214.17 while the fourth member of the winning team, Patrick Neil Nuqui, shot 1202 for an average of 200.33.
“Masayang-masaya po sa second gold. Hindi namin inaasahang mananalo, basta inin-joy lang namin ang game,” said Tan, a former junior bowler competing in his third SEA Games.
Tan’s singles win ended the country’s long gold medal drought in SEA Games bowling, with Frederick Ong last doing the trick in the 2011 Indonesia Games.
Tan and Dychango bounced back from a seventh-place finish in men’s doubles last Wednesday, two rungs lower than the tandem of Malig and Nuqui.
“Between team and individual gold medal, mas gusto ko ‘yung team kasi kami lahat uuwi ng medalya,” said Tan, who rolled a total of 1292 last Monday, propped up by a six-bagger in the sixth game where he scored 249.
Coach Biboy Rivera echoed Tan’s sentiments, saying: “Talagang ito ‘yung event na gusto naming mapanalunan, more than the individual. Kasi sa bowling, ‘yung team event ang pinaka-prestigious.
Mas mahirap panalunin. “Kailangan lahat ng players mag-sabay-sabay, mag-unite, tapos magkaroon ng teamwork. Kasi hindi lahat ng games ay maganda ang laro ng lahat. May sasalo dun sa nahihirapan. Dito ninyo makikita ‘yung gelling nun team, ‘yung camaraderie, ‘yung unity nung team.”
“Their desire to give glory to God and make the country proud was greater than their fear of not making it or fear of losing. And with the grace of God, we prayed the rosary. I knew we were short on training but if God is with us, who can be against us,” said bowling secretary-general Bong Coo. “Nagdasal lang kami ng nagdasal.”
Malaysia, the leader after the first three-game block last Wednesday, finished second with 5161 pinfalls, while Singapore bagged the bronze with 4963. Indonesia finished fourth (4890), followed by Thailand (4691), and Vietnam (4570).
Women’s silver medalist Alexis Sy will lead the country’s quest for a double gold team win in the distaff side in the company of Rachelle Leon Collanto, Mades Lourdes Arles and Lara Posadas-Wong later Thursday.