SEA Games 2023

PH supplants Singapore for 5th place in SEA Games after 9-gold haul

Delfin Dioquino

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PH supplants Singapore for 5th place in SEA Games after 9-gold haul

STILL GOT IT. Jason Balabal wins his first SEA Games gold in over a decade.


Olympians Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, and Elreen Ando step up, while veteran wrestler Jason Balabal ends a 12-year SEA Games drought as the Philippines raises its gold tally to 46

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – The Philippines enjoyed its most productive day in the Southeast Asian Games courtesy of boxing, arnis, esports, weightlifting, judo, and wrestling as it supplanted Singapore for fifth place overall.

Olympians Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, and Elreen Ando showed the way for the Philippines, which bagged nine gold medals on Sunday, May 14, for a total of 46 – four more than Singapore.

Petecio redeemed herself from her bronze finish in Hanoi after ruling the women’s 57kg, while Paalam dominated the men’s 54kg in his SEA Games return as weight issues kept him out last year.

SEA Games first-timer Paul Julyfer Bascon (men’s 60kg) also delivered a boxing gold for the Philippines, which won a total of four in the sport after Ian Clark Bautista (men’s 51kg) clinched the first one on Saturday.

Ando, meanwhile, bagged her first SEA Games weightlifting gold following a record-setting performance in the women’s 59kg.

Not only did Ando dethrone two-time defending champion Hoang Thi Duyen, she also erased the records in snatch, clean and jerk, and total lift previously held by the Vietnamese.

Ando broke a streak of four straight silvers from Angeline Colonia (women’s 45kg), Lovely Inan (women’s 49kg), John Ceniza (men’s 61kg), and Rosalinda Faustino (women’s 55kg) for the Philippines’ first weightlifting gold.

Veteran wrestler Jason Balabal, meanwhile, struck a SEA Games gold for the first time in over a decade after lording over the men’s Greco Roman 82kg class.

Now 36 years old, Balabal – best remembered for wearing a bahag when he carried the flag for the Philippines in the 2013 SEA Games – beat Singapore’s Aryan Bin Azman and Cambodia’s Keo Sophak to claim his first gold since 2011.

Sibol earned its second esports gold after completing a three-peat in the men’s Mobile Legends event following a 3-0 sweep of Malaysia in the finals.

Judo and arnis contributed one and two golds, respectively, as judoka Rena Furukawa (women’s -57kg) and arnisadors Charlotte Ann Tolentino (women’s bantamweight full contact padded stick) and Jedah-Mae Soriano (women’s lightweight full contact padded stick) topped their events.

Their three-peat bid already crushed, Gilas Women boosted their bid for the next best thing – a silver – with an 82-70 win over Thailand.

In women’s volleyball, the Philippines settled for fourth place for the fourth straight edition after a 25-22, 22-25, 25-22, 25-22 loss to Indonesia in the bronze-medal match.

With two days left, Team Philippines seeks to surpass its 52-gold haul last year with more golds expected from arnis, taekwondo, wrestling, and judo. –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.