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Reyes, So start RP’s bid for glory

GUANGZHOU — Two athletes, separated by four generations, and the fancied Smart Gilas national basketball team kick off the Philippines’ campaign in the 16th Guangzhou Asian Games Saturday.

Following the spectacular opening ceremony that ferried participants by boats, some 10,000 athletes get down to business of winning gold medals.

A total of 28 gold will be disputed on Day 1 of hostilities, including five in dance sport which is making its Asiad debut.

There’s little to expect from the Filipino dance performers who have to contend with the Chinese and Japanese in the two-day, 10-gold discipline.

Prospects of an early gold strike are slim, but there are a few bright spots that the Filipinos can draw inspiration from.

Pool legend Efren “Bata” Reyes and chess prodigy Wesley So are among blue-chip Filipino athletes seeing action Saturday.

Reyes, the 57-year-old vanguard of the billiards squad, has been seeded in the first round of the men’s singles 8-ball event. He awaits the winner of the match between Faquri Bahauddin of Afghanistan and Kumar Alok of India.

A two-time former world champion and Hall of Famer, Reyes swings into action at 7 p.m. looking for the only trophy missing in his cabinet.

Roberto Gomez Jr. is in the other side of the draw, also drawing a bye. He faces either Mazon Berjaoui of Libya or Sumit Talwar of India for a spot in the Round of 16 at 4 p.m.

So, 17, the highest-ranked Filipino chess player in history, begins his campaign in the men’s individual rapid chess event along with fellow grandmaster Joey Antonio.

The nine-round Swiss event will run for four straight days with each Filipino playing two games on the first day.

The day’s highly anticipated match will be in basketball at 7:30 p.m. when Smart-Gilas battles Kuwait in a knockout match for a spot in the next round.

The Nationals split two much-needed tune-up matches against Chinese club teams over the past two days to get ready for the do-or-die match.

They lost to the Guangdong Tigers, 87-75, Wednesday and defeated the Dongguan Leopards, 79-65, Thursday.

Absent during the 2006 Games in Doha, Qatar following FIBA suspension, the Nationals are hoping to join Iran, Qatar, Chinese-Taipei, Japan and the winner between Afghanistan and India in Group F.

The top four group finishers advance into the knockout quarterfinals.

Action in wushu also begins with top gold medal prospect Eduard Folayang, Mary Jane Estimar, Benjie Rivera, Mariane Mariano and Denver Labader taking on separate opponents.

Swimming also gets underway with three tankers seeing action. They are Jasmine Alkhaldi, Erica Totten and Jessie Lacuna.

Alkhaldi is entered in the women’s 200-meter freestyle along with Totten and in the women’s 100-meter butterfly.

On the other hand, Lacuna plunges into action in the men’s 200-meter butterfly.

Miguel Molina withdrew from the 400-meter individual medley to conserve his energy for the shorter medley distance.

In cycling, Fil-Australian Apryl Eppinger makes her Asiad debut in the women’s 500-meter time trial. The other Filipino entry, John Renee Mier, sees action in the men’s individual pursuit.

Judo has four final events, but the Filipinos are entered in only two of them – the women’s +78 kilogram (Ruth Dugaduga) and men’s +100 kilogram (Tomohiko Hoshina).

The Filipinos also have entries in shooting (Jayson Valdez, men’s 10m air rifle), wrestling (Margarito Angana, men’s Greco-Roman 55 kg.) and weightlifting (Nestor Colonia, men’s 58 kg.).

Also on tap are the team competition in tennis and soft tennis.

This post first appeared on Online Filipino Hub, please read the originial post: here

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Reyes, So start RP’s bid for glory


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