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Swimmers give NCR huge Palaro lead

LEGAZPI, Albay­—Maurice Sacho Ilustre did not break a record in the final day of the swimming meet of the 2016 Palarong Pambansa here.

But his two-gold haul in the 200-meter freestyle and the 4×100 meter freestyle relay helped the National Capital Region dominate 8 of 12 events on tap at the poolside of the Bicol University-Albay Sports and Tourism Complex.

“I’m happy because I bonded with my teammates with the wins I had,”said Ilustre, who went on to become one of the most bemedalled athletes of the Games as he duplicated the feat he had last year.

His teammates in the relays included Miguel Barlisan, Andrei Pogiongko and Patrick Galvez. 

NCR went on to rule the secondary boys’ 100-meter breast stroke, the secondary girls’ 200-meter breast stroke, the secondary girls’ 4×100-meter freestyle relay, the elementary boys’ 50-meter freestyle, the 4×100-meter freestyle and elementary girls’ 4×100-meter freestyle relay.

“Eight of 12 is good for NCR. It’s a good way to end the tournament,” said NCR swimming coach Aldo Tong.

The NCR remained solidly in front with its 48-25-17 gold-silver-bronze tally.

Meanwhile, records continued to fall after a girl from Davao broke her second meet mark, while four typhoon victims from Southern Leyte and a lanky farmer’s daughter from Isabela came up with their best-ever finishes in the fifth and last day of action in the athletics’ meet.

Mea Gey Ninura, a Grade 10 student at Kapatagan National High School in Davao City, followed up on her outstanding feat in the secondary girls’ 3000-meter steeplechase by smashing the two-year-old time of Jie Ann Calis (4:44.4) in 4:39.46 in the 1500-meter run.

Twin sisters Lenlyn Sanita and Lealyn, kids whose family was made homeless when supertyphoon Yolanda struck the country in 2013, ran their personal best times as they led Leyte Sports Academy team to the 4×400 gold in a record-shattering time of 3 minutes, 56.53 seconds.

Cherry Mae Banatao, a carpenter’s daughter from Isabela, cleared 1.66 meters in the secondary girls’ high jump, getting past Maureen Schrijvers’ 1.62-meter feat in 2012.

Her rival Alexie Mae Caimoso of Region 7 took the silver in 1.63, also past Schrijvers’ mark.

Francis Edward Obiena gave NCR another gold in secondary boys’ pole vault, clearing 4.06 meters, some 1 cm above Adel Valdecanas’ 4:05 set in 2010.

In secondary basketball, San Beda-Taytay (Calabarzon) reached the finals after pulling off a 79-68 win over NCR selection over at the Ibalong Centrum gym.

They will meet Central Luzon in the finals after they turned back Central Visayas, 77-66. 

Ninura got off to the fast start and never let go of the lead after the first 400-meters as she held her own against  Northern Mindanao’s Jie Ann Calis for the second time.

Last Monday, Ninura clocked 10 minutes and 3.4 seconds to break Calis’ 2015 record of 10:10.16.

“Nu’ng unang lap pa lang, inunahan ko na siya para ‘di na siya makahabol,” said Ninura, who later came up empty-handed in the 800-meter run, with a fifthplace finish.

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