INCHEON, South Korea—When nothing seemed to go right for an embattled Gilas Pilipinas and when long-jumper Marestella Torres could not summon her strength, two boxers kept the Philippines’s hopes for a medal afloat with contrasting victories in the 17th Asian Games on Monday.
A young and ill-experienced team from China, which participated in the Games to get the feel of high-level international competition, humbled the national men’s basketball team, 78-71, sending the Filipino dribblers who have seemed to have lost all their pride and confidence to a battle for seventh place against a dangerous Mongolia side that upset Chinese Taipei earlier in the Games.
Torres looked to have come out of motherhood brandishing the same focus and strength that once made her the country’s long-jump queen and an Asian champion in 2009. But the cold and foggy Incheon weather derailed the comebacking 33-year-old, who gave birth to her first daughter in January and bombed out of her favorite event with three consecutive faults.
But thanks to boxing, the Philippine delegation—locked at two silver and two bronze medals since Friday when Paul Marton de la Cruz finished third in archery’s men’s individual of compound—had something to rejoice about on Monday when lightweight Charly Suarez advanced to the semifinals after beating his foe from Iraq for a guaranteed bronze medal, and Wilfredo Lopez was surprised to beat another Iraqi to reach the middleweight quarterfinals.
Count the Blu Girls in, as the country’s bets in softball stayed in the hunt for a medal despite absorbing a 4-5 loss to Chinese Taipei. The softbelles are expected to wind up the eliminations with a victory over lowly Thailand on Tuesday and join powerhouse Japan, China and Taiwan in the page system semifinals.
The race for a medal also starts in taekwondo with four jins— Samuel Thomas Morrison, Levita Ronna Ilao, Nicole Abigail Cham and Robert Kristopher Uy—taking to the mat on Tuesday.