Tokong, Blancada sweep surfing

John Mark Tokong took down three rivals on his way to retaining the 26th Siargao International Surfing Cup at Cloud 9 in Siargao, Surigao del Norte Monday.

Nilbie Blancada completed a 1-2 sweep by the host country after dominating the women’s event.

In a repeat of the 2019 final, the 27-year-old Filipino star bested Southeast Asian Games champion Oney Anwar of Indonesia with a two-wave total of 15.80 points.

As his rival struggled in the first three waves posting 4.25, 0.45, and 2.75 points in that order, Tokong started with 7.50 and bounced back from a lackluster second wave with 8 out of a possible 10 points.

He earned 7.80 points in the fifth wave and watched Anwar try to beat his score.

The Indonesian, who eliminated Filipino Robert Magaluna in the semifinals, did 7.25 points in the fourth wave but could not go any better. He posted 6.90 in his final wave.

The victory was sweet for the country’s top surfer who survived near elimination in the quarterfinals.

Trailing by half a point going into his seventh and final wave, Tokong needed to score more than 7 points to squeeze through the semifinals.

He rose to the occasion with a dazzling display of balance and power to earn 9.25 points, the best score of the day.

That lifted him to a much-anticipated showdown with arch-rival Philmar Alipayo who had no trouble ousting Kian Martin of Sweden in the quarterfinals, 14.25-13.65.

Alipayo, the 30-year-old husband of actress Andi Eigenmann, took a hefty lead after three waves, posting 14.90 points but Tokong bounced back with 7.50 and 8.50 in his last two waves to storm into the final with 16 points.

Three Filipinos reached the Final Four with Magaluna joining Tokong and Alipayo after routing Japanese  Joh Azuchi, 13.50-7.50.

Alipayo and Magaluna shared third place.

Blancada, the reigning SEA Games champion, stamped her class in the women’s division.

She humbled Australian Ziggy Aloha Mackenzie, 12.75-5.20, in the quarterfinals; eliminated Japanese Nanaho Tsuzuki, 14.75-11.65; and edged Japanese Anon Matsuoka, 11.50-10.35.

Two other Filipinas – Maria Graciella Migullas and Dianne Nogalo – were ousted in the quarterfinals.

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