MANILA -- It’s mission accomplished and a dream come true for the “Bisdak” neighbors in Northern Mindanao, Francis Casey “Niño” Alcantara and Jeson Petrombon in lawn tennis competition of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Alcantara, 27, of Cagayan de Oro and Petrombon, 26, of Iligan edged the English-speaking pair of Treat Huey and Ruben Gonzales, 7-6, 7-5 to capture the gold in the all-Filipino doubles title showdown on Saturday noon at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.
It was a tough test of might and courage for the tennis wonders from Northern Mindanao against their more experienced world-ranking compatriots from Manila as the first set was only decided by a point.
After a 2-0 start in second set, Huey and Gonzales retaliated to wrest the lead, 4-3, but Alcantara and Petrombon, who both speak the Visayan language (Bisayang Dako), kept their poise and composure to take the upperhand again at 6-5.
From there, a couple of match points struggle ensued. “But the young guns finally prevailed (7-5) nakasinggit `mi sa dakong kalipay dire sa Cagayan de Oro,” texted fellow sportswriter and chess player Jaime Joshua Frias II.
Overjoyed as they just won a silver in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, the former Xavier University standout Alcantara turned emotional though he managed to hold his tears back in the company of a handful of friends and family members who came to show support.
“Ako ang nakahilak para kang Niño as super proud mother. Sulit kaayo akong pag-take og leave of absence sa opisina,” said the still youth-looking Sarah Belle, an SSS (Social Security System) employee, who will turn 56 by January.
Like in previous exploits, the doubles expert Alcantara dedicates his SEA Games triumph with Petrombon to his late father, Engineer Francis Alcantara, who died at the early age of 37.
“Sayang nga wala niya na-witness, pero sure ko na lipay kaayo iyang papa nga atoa na sa langit. I am hoping nga ilang victory maka-inspire sa uban nga mga promising athletes in Mindanao,” Sarah Belle, said.
The Filipinos made it to the finals after contrasting semifinal wins over their Vietnam rivals.
“At least I saw it in flesh before taking the flight back to Cagayan de Oro when Huey and Gonzales rolled over Cao and Nguyen Van, 6-1, 6-3 and Niño (Alcantara) and Petrombon get past Le Quoc Khanh and Nam, 6-3, 6-1 to arrange an all-Filipino championship,” wrote lawyer Tibs Palasan in his Facebook wall.
“Alcantara and Petrombon showed that they were ready as a team as it’s really difficult to beat the wildly-cheered tandem from Manila especially Huey Treat who is known as the grand maestro of tennis doubles." Palasan added.