Philippines finishes 2015 SEA Games in sixth place

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines had aimed for 50 gold medals at the 2015 Southeast Asian Games, but will wrap up this event in Singapore with 29, good enough for sixth place.

That total is the same the Philippines had earned in 2013, despite sending more than twice the number of athletes this year with 459. The Philippines did place one spot greater than they had in Myanmar, and had 30 more total medals at 131 (29 golds, 36 silvers, 66 bronze).

Thailand finished first place overall for the second straight time with 95 golds, 83 silvers and 69 bronzes.

Last year, PH team chef-de-mission Julian Camacho told reporters that he expected a gold haul of 45-50, while Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia said that a third or fourth place finish was expected.

"If they don’t deliver, maiwan na sila sa (they better stay behind in) Singapore,” Camacho was quoted in Philippine Star.

The Philippines' most lucrative events were boxing and athletics, which each earned 5 gold medals. Women's light flyweight boxer Josie Gabuco and men's bantamweight boxer Mario Fernandez repeated as gold medalists, as did Eric Cray (men's 400m hurdles), Christopher Ulboc Jr (men's 3,000-meter Steeplechase), Dennis Orcollo (men's 10-ball pool), Kiyomi Watanabe (Women's judo), as well as the men's poomsae Taekwondo team.

The Philippine men's basketball struggled in the semifinals against Thailand and overcame a late surge against Indonesia in the final, but managed their 17th gold medal since joining the subcontinental meet in 1977.

Another success was the men's sailing team comprised of Ridgely Balladares, Richly Magsanay and Rommel Chavez winning its first SEAG gold since the Philippines hosted the event.

But the most viral event at this year's SEA Games was the diving misadventures of John Fabriga and John Pahoyo, who scored zeros in the men's 3-meter springboard competition on Wednesday, June 10.

The divers claimed to have only had 4 days to practice, while Garcia demanded an answer from aquatics chief Mark Joseph for their showing.

The Philippines also missed the gold medals they won in 2013 from the women's individual and team event after standout Princess Superal had to pass on tryouts due to commitments abroad, according to ABS-CBN.

The 2015 event also marked the return of the Philippine women's volleyball team after a 10-year absence, though the failure of Singapore organizers to televise the uber popular team's opening match against Indonesia drew outrage from PH fans.

The Philippines finished in the top 5 during the first three stagings of the millennium - including an overall victory in 2005. The 2017 SEA Games will be held in Malaysia.

- Rappler.com