Hangzhou—Following a spate of losses in many fronts on Monday, the Philippines recovered some lost ground on Tuesday with victories by Gilas Pilipinas, tennis phenom Alex Eala and Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Carlo Paalam in the 19th Asian Games here.
With Justine Brownlee, CJ Perez and Ange Kouame leading the charge, Gilas used a balanced attack to thrash Bahrain, 89-61, at the start of the basketball competitions at the Zijingang University Gym.
Coach Tim Cone quickly put the emphatic 28-point victory behind, though, saying they need to prepare for Thailand and Tyler Lamb, who will be Gilas’ next opponent on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Eala survived a marathon first set to beat veteran Rutuja Bhosale of India, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the women’s singles event at Olympic Sports Stadium.
Eala, 18, needed 72 minutes and a tiebreaker to outlast her 27-year-old rival in a tightly-contested first set that thrilled a small but highly-energized crowd.
But it was a breeze in the second set as Eala earned a quarterfinal meeting with Japanese Kyoka Okamura, a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 winner over Savanna Ly-Nguyen.
Later in the day, Eala teamed up with Francis Casey Alcantara in the mixed doubles to blank the Nepalese duo of Sunira Thapa and Pranav Khanal, 6-0, 6-0.
On the other hand, Paalam lived up to his Tokyo Olympics pedigree as he mauled Jordan’s Mohammad Jajeh Abu in their opening bout.
Evading the longer reach of a much-taller foe, Paalam got the nod of the judges after three rounds in a unanimous 5-0 victory in the men’s 57kg round of 32 at the Hangzhou Gymnasium.
Earlier, Kayla Sanchez broke the national record and emerged fastest in her heat to earn a spot in the evening medal race of the women’s 100-meter freestyle and a chance to end a 25-year Philippine medal drought in swimming.
Sanchez touched the wall first in 54.70 seconds at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Aquatic Arena, easily beating Japan’s Nagisa Ikemoto (55.02) and South Korea’s Soeun Jeong (56.33) in the second of four qualifying heats.
The 22-year-old Sanchez, who switched federations from Canada to the Philippines, wiped out the 55.71-second clocking of Remedy Rule established in the TYR Pro Swim Series in Des Moines, United States on March 5, 2020.
It was the third record-shattering feat by Sanchez on her third day in the pool after resetting the Philippine women’s 50m backstroke twice on Monday and helping the 4x100m freestyle relay team record a new national standard.
Sanchez wiped out Teia Salvino’s national mark of 28.95 in the 2023 Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia in the 50m back with a 28.86 effort in the qualification heats before jacking it up to 28.66 in the finals, where she wound up sixth.
The two-time Olympic medalist, however, placed fifth in the finals with a clocking of 56.69, 2.52 behind winner, Hong Kong’s Siobhan Bernadette Haughey (52.17).
The last time a Philippine swimmer medaled in the Asiad was during the 1998 Bangkok games, where Ryan Papa bagged a pair of bronzes in the men’s 100m and 200m backstroke.
A gold or silver has even become more precious following William Wilson’s victory in the men’s 200m freestyle in 1982 New Delhi along with his silver in the 400m freestyle.
No Filipino swimmer has won the gold or silver in the Asiad since.