Billiards, cradle of PH legends, fails to strike gold in SEA Games 2023 | Inquirer Sports
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Billiards, cradle of PH legends, fails to strike gold in SEA Games 2023

Carlo Biado SEA Games

FILE – Carlo Biado during the men’s 9-ball billiards final in the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam. SEA GAMES POOL

Billiards, a sport that produced world-class Filipino legends, will end its campaign in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games without a gold medal.

The best Team Philippines could muster in Phnom Penh were a couple of bronze medals, courtesy of the men’s 9-ball doubles duo of Carlo Biado and Johann Chua and veteran Francisco dela Cruz in men’s 3-carom.

It was quite a rare sight in the biennial meet—as winner after winner stared at their flag while their national anthem played, not one Filipino stood on the top podium step, a dubious first for the country since the sport made its debut in the 1987 Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.

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The Philippines has won forty-eight golds since that inaugural tournament, 14 of which coming from the crack female duo of Rubilen Amit and Chezka Centeno.

Prior to the Cambodia meet, Amit and Centeno had dominated the SEA Games for nearly a decade, accounting for gold medals in women’s 8-ball, 9-ball and 10-ball either as singles competitors or as a pair.

Rubilen Amit Chezka Centeno

Rubilen Amit defeats Chezka Centeno 7-5 in the women’s 10-ball finals in the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam. SEA GAMES POOL

But Cambodia elected to limit the number of pool events to just two—men’s 9-ball singles and men’s 9-ball doubles—and put more focus on carom, dominated in recent editions by Vietnam, and snooker.

Without their centerpiece events, Amit and Centeno were forced to compete in both women’s 3-carom and 1-carom where they were expectedly eliminated in the opening round.

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Biado and Chua were expected to contest the men’s 9-ball singles gold and compete heavily in men’s 9-ball doubles.

But both absorbed stunning defeats in the round-of-16 despite drawing an opening round bye due to their 1-2 finish last year in Hanoi, Vietnam. Chua lost to Myanmar’s Phone Myint Kyaw while Biado fell to Indonesia’s Feri Satriyadi.

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The two did make it to the semifinals as a pair in doubles, falling victim to Phone Myint Kyaw and his Myanmar teammate Thaw Zin Htet, 9-7, on Saturday despite rallying from a pair of four-rack deficits.

Efren “Bata” Reyes missed out on a medal finish in carom after being eliminated in the opening round by Cambodia’s Woo Donghoon, a South Korean who was naturalized by the host nation.

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Dela Cruz got a bronze in the same event after reaching the semifinals, where he lost to Vietnam’s Duc Anh Chien.

TAGS: Billiards, SEA Games

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