Malaysia force Singapore's men's trio to settle for silver
Singapore trio raise hopes with a late surge, but have to settle for silver
They were the defending champions and favourites to taste glory at the Orchid Country Club bowling centre yesterday.
While the Malaysians retained their SEA Games men's trios bowling title with a combined six-game total of 3,701 pinfalls, Singapore's Keith and Howard Saw, and Javier Tan, gave them a mighty scare with a late surge that had the home crowd buzzing.
The Singaporeans were just 30 pins behind their Causeway rivals Muhd Rafiq Ismail, Ahmad Muaz and Timmy Tan at the end of the fifth game and were fired up early in the sixth, roaring and slapping high-fives with one another and head coach Remy Ong with each strike, as the boisterous 300-strong home crowd adding to the electric atmosphere.
But they could not sustain their charge, chalking up only 598 pins in the final game to end up with silver on a 3,656 total.
Ryan Lalisang, Billy Islam and Hardy Rachmadian of the Philippines took the bronze with 3,653 pins.
Men's singles gold medallist Rafiq said: "I saw the score at the end of the fifth game and knew that we were leading but, luckily, the (chasing) Singaporeans were far away from us and we could focus on our own game.
"We felt the pressure, but our coach kept telling us to focus on our own game and, if we didn't bowl strikes, we just take the spares."
The Singaporeans had to grind out results on "tough" lanes yesterday, which made it difficult for them to string strikes together.
Keith, 20, said: "The way we bowled in the first three games got us into a good position, but the lanes were tougher in the second block and we just had to grind out the results. The key word of the day was 'patience' and that was all that we could do.
"We got the ball into the pocket and picked up as many spares as we could. We didn't have enough to win the gold, so I guess we have to settle for the silver."
Head coach Ong paid tribute to the team's fighting spirit.
He said: "I am really proud of them, there's nothing more that I can ask of them. Their hard work in training is paying off right now and they have proven that they are not just here to make up the numbers."