By Jean Malanum

VICTORIOUS. Filipino medal winners join their teammates during the awarding ceremony of the 14th Asian Lawn Bowls Championships in Perak, Malaysia on Feb. 26, 2023. Standing (L-R) coach Reynaldo Samia, team members Homer Mercado, Leoncio Carreon Jr., Ronald Lising and Marisa Baronda; Philippine Lawn Bowls Association (PLBA) President Benito Pascual II and board of director Gene Lopez; Rosita Bradborn, Elmer Abatayo, Rodel Labayo and coach Chris Dagpin. (Contributed photo)

MANILA – The Philippines captured three gold and two bronze medals in the 14th Asian Lawn Bowls Championships which ended on Feb. 26 at the Perak Lawn Bowls Arena in Ipoh, Malaysia.

The Filipinos won 3 golds courtesy of Rodel Labayo and Elmer Abayato (men’s pairs), Ronald Lising, Leoncio Carreon Jr. and Hommer Mercado (men’s triples) and Marissa Baronda and Rosita Bradborn (women’s pairs).

Baronda also got a bronze medal in the singles event while the other bronze medal came from Abayato, Lising, Carreon and Mercado in the men’s fours event.

“I thank God that we won the men’s pairs. I would like to express my gratitude to the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee for always supporting the Filipino athletes,” Labayo said in an interview on Tuesday.

“We were confident when we reached the final because we already beat them (Malaysians) in the elimination round. They are our toughest opponents,” said the 35-year-old Labayo, who was born and raised in Angeles City, Pampanga.

He won the men’s pairs gold medal with Angelo Morales at the 2019 Manila SEA Games.

The Filipinos escaped with a 17-16 victory over Malaysians Izzat Shameer Dzulkeple and Muhammad Hizlee Abdul Rais in the preliminary and final rounds.

With three gold and two bronze medals, the Philippines finished second overall to host Malaysia, which pocketed four golds, two silvers and two bronzes. India was third with one gold, three silver and one bronze medals followed by Thailand (0-2-5), Hong Kong (0-1-4) Singapore (0-0-2).

The Philippines also improved its 2018 performance in China where it bagged one silver medal (women’s pairs of Bradborn and Sonia Bruce) and two bronze medals from Bradborn, Bruce, Hazel Jagonoy and Ronalyn Greenlees (women’s fours) and Ainie Knight (women’s singles).

Greenlees, also a Level 2 international coach, said the team’s success is a product of hardwork and dedication.

The former president of Philippine Lawn Bowls Association (PLBA) said the team is regularly training at the Clark Global City in Pampanga, the same venue of the 2019 SEA Games.

“We are very grateful to the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) for allowing us to use the venue. The PLBA will not be as it is now without the help of CDC and course, the PSC and the POC,” Greenlees said.

The national bowlers, who were accompanied by coaches Chris Dagpin and Rey Samia, and PLBA president Benito Pascual II and board of director Gene Lopez, arrived at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga last Monday.

Meanwhile, the PLBA is planning to send a team to the Australian Open scheduled from June 10 to 23 in Gold Coast City.

“We hope that we can get the funds for the trip because the Australian Open is our tune-up tournament for the World Championships which will be held in the same venue from Aug. 29 to Sept. 10,” said Greenlees, who won the women’s fours bronze medal with Bradborn, Bruce and Hagonoy at the 2016 World Outdoor Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand. (PNA)