SIARGAO ISLAND, Surigao del Norte—Local bet John Mark Tokong survived a shaky finish to keep his title hopes alive Tuesday in the 25th Siargao International Surfing Cup at the world-famous Cloud 9 here.
The 23-year-old Tokong, started with aplomb but had to turn back the challenge of defending champion Skip McCullough of the United States to salvage second place in Heat 3 of this tournament which attracted top surfers from all over the world.
Tokong, a native of General Luna, scored 12.75 points, while McCullough, who beat Tokong in last year’s final piled 12.10 points to settle for third spot.
Australian sensation Thomas Cervi took the top spot in the heat with 13.25 points. The top two finishers in each heat gained passage to the next round.
Tokong last won the Siargao International in 2015. To win it again, he needs to beat leading Indonesia surfer Oney Anwar in today’s Round of 16.
Others who advanced were Bronson Meydi of Indonesia, who will tackle Elliot Paerata-Reid of New Zealand; Hawaii’s Noah Beschan, who will test Australia’s Callum Robson; while Cervi faces an acid test against Tomas King.
The tournament which is sanctioned by the World Surf League is presented by Globe Telecom and Sprite and fully supported by Representative Bingo Matugas, General Luna Mayor Yayang Rusillon and the provincial government headed by Surigao del Norte Governor Francisco “Lalo’’ Matugas. The event is also backed up by the Philippine Sports Commission headed by Butch Ramirez and the Department of Tourism.