HANGZHOU, CHINA—Sanda fighter Arnel Mandal is bound to deliver the first silver medal for Team Philippines in the 19th Asian Games after downing Kyrgyzstan’s Avazkev Amanbekov, 2-0, in the semifinals of the men’s 56kg on Wednesday night.
The 27-year-old Mandal’s calculated takedowns got the approval of the judges while efficiently defending himself from Amanbekov’s relentless kicks in the course of their two-round battle at the Xiaoshan Guali Sports Centre.
“My strategy was to keep him from taking control of the fight. I made sure his wrestling skills and kicking won’t be a factor and I succeeded,’’ said Mandal, the 2015 world champion in the men’s 52kg, in Filipino.
After topping each of his last three fights in a breeze, Mandal will face the ultimate test in the tournament after China’s Jiang Haidong dominated Vietnam’s Hua Van Doan, 2-0, in the other semifinal match.
“I’ll just do my best. This is already the gold medal that we are talking about and I will surely go all out even if I’m facing a fighter from the host country,’’ said Mandal, who also placed second twice in the 2017 and 2019 world championships.
He won the 2015 World Sanda Championships in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Meanwhile, Filipino wushu officials decided not to field Gideon Fred Padua in the semifinals of the men’s 60kg, leaving the latter with a sure bronze medal on the table.
According to Wushu Federation of the Philippines president Freddie Jalasco, they are skeptical on allowing Padua to fight Iran’s Shoja Panahigelehkolaei in the semis.
Padua suffered a broken nose bridge in an impressive quarterfinal win over Turkmenistan’s Agajumageldi Yazymov on Tuesday night.
“We don’t want to risk it. He has to undergo surgery and miss the world championships at the end of the year,’’ said Jalasco.
Clemente Tabugara Jr. didn’t have the same luck as Mandal, dropping his semifinal encounter against Indonesia’s Samuel Marbun, 0-2, in the men’s 65kg bracket.
With Tabugara Jr. assured of a bronze after downing Kazakhstan’s Abdusamat Ashirov in the men’s 65kg, the national wushu team is already staring at one silver and two more bronzes following Jones Inso’s third-place performance in the men’s taijiquan-taijijian all-around.