Biado heeds wife’s plea to go to US and hits pay dirt by winning US Open Pool
Alarmed by the dearth of money games back home, Carlo Biado took the gambit of grabbing a plane ticket to the United States four months ago.
The Filipino billiards ace fixed that economic concern with a momentous coup in the recent US Open Pool Championship.
“There are no tournaments, no money games back in the Philippines due to the [COVID-19] pandemic,’’ said Biado in Filipino, whose wife Niecky egged him to try their luck instead in the United States.
Since the global health crisis hit early 2020, the 2017 World 9-ball champion was reduced to playing at the home table in Muntinlupa City, mostly by himself.
“I really didn’t want to go to the US, but my wife was persistent. Eventually, I followed her advice and proved that she’s really my lucky charm,’’ said Biado.
Right across the table from where Biado sat during the finals of the US Open Pool Championship (Sunday morning, Manila time) at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, was Niecky, watching his every move.
Biado’s better half was the balm that soothed his battered nerves whenever the occasion got a bit tricky, particularly when Singaporean Aloysius Yapp was way ahead, 8-3, going into the 12th rack.
“It was a part of our strategy that I sat right across from him. When I saw him struggling, I made a signal, telling him to take it easy and everything will be fine,’’ said Niecky during an interview with Radyo Pilipinas 2.
The husband and wife tandem worked wonders as Biado swept the last 10 racks for an amazing 13-8 comeback triumph that duplicated the feat of Efren “Bata’’ Reyes 27 years ago in the tournament considered one of the most prestigious in the sport.
The 37-year-old multiple Southeast Asian Games medalist capped his heroics by sinking the 9 ball in the corner pocket in the 21st rack, netting him the champion’s purse of $50,000 (P2.5 million) that went with the traditional green jacket and the Barry Behrman trophy.
“It was the most pressure-packed game that I played my entire career. I finally achieved the dream of winning this event,’’ said Biado, whose victory is worthy of a Hall of Fame consideration.
He pointed out that the big crowd, with a huge chunk of Filipinos cheering behind him, and the title at stake made it psychologically challenging.
Only three Filipinos have made it to the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame—Reyes in 2003, Francisco “Django’’ Bustamante in 2010 and Alex Pagulayan in 2019.
The chatter for Biado to join them grew louder after Matchroom Pool, the world’s leading 9-ball pool promoter, put the Filipino in the conversation for a Hall of Fame enshrinement.
“I’m glad to survive the pressure. At that time, I just told myself to focus and play my normal game. Of course, I couldn’t have done it without the help of the One up there and my wife,’’ said Biado.
Yapp is the Singaporean No.1 who prevented an all-Filipino finals by beating Dennis Orcollo in the semis.
“He (Yapp) is really good. He will be a big threat in the Southeast Asian Games. But we will be ready for him,’’ said Biado, pointing out that he would still prioritize his national team commitments.
Biado is still pondering whether to play in the International Open next month in Virginia since he’s been away from his family for a long time.
For now, Biado’s priority is to take Niecky to a week-long holiday in New York before heading back home to spend quality time with their kids.