Unseeded pals Chua, Aranas restore PH back to billiards throne with thrilling title run | Inquirer Sports
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Unseeded pals Chua, Aranas restore PH back to billiards throne with thrilling title run

Johann Chua (right) and James Aranas during the awarding ceremony

Johann Chua (right) and James Aranas during the awarding ceremony. —MATCHROOM SPORTS PHOTO

Johann Chua and James Aranas had reasons to be sentimental about the journey that not only gave the Philippines its fourth title in the World Cup of Pool, but also fulfilled the two friends’ lifelong dream.

“We have known each other since we were 13 years old. We went to school together and we’ve been through a lot,” Chua said after teaming up with Aranas to fashion out an 11-7 victory over Germany’s Joshua Filler and Moritz Neuhausen in the final held on Sunday in Lugo, Spain (Monday in Manila).

“To win this one with him is really an amazing feeling,” added Chua after sinking the last ball.

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Chua and Aranas became the first to win the title as an unseeded duo with a run that started by eliminating last year’s titleholders and surviving a pair of close calls.

They pocketed $60,000 (P3.32 million) and joined an exclusive group of Filipinos who have ruled the annual nine-ball doubles event led by the legendary Efren “Bata” Reyes and Francisco “Django” Bustamante, who did the trick twice in 2006 and 2009.

Dennis Orcollo and Lee Van Corteza triumphed in 2013, but that was followed by the country’s decade-long drought in the World Cup.

“It’s been our dream to put our names there,” Aranas, a relative unknown among casual sports fans until the tournament started, said as he looked at the trophy during the postmatch interview.

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Johann Chua World Cup of Pool

The Philippines’ Johann Chua reacts during a quarterfinal match against Chinese-Taipei at the World Cup of Pool. Photo from Matchroom pool

Chua and Aranas entered the event unseeded after no Philippine entry participated in last year’s edition. They were drawn against defending champions Francisco Sanchez Ruiz and David Alcaide of the host country right away.

But Chua and Aranas, who encountered some trouble prior to last week’s Spanish Open when he lost his cue sticks before recovering them in time for the World Cup, rallied from being two racks away from elimination to stun Sanchez Ruiz and Alcaide, 7-5.

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The run continued with a 7-2 thumping of another Spanish team in Jonas Souto and Jose Alberto Delgado, which ended with Aranas’ golden break.

Chua and Aranas edged brothers Ko Pin-Yi and Ko Pin-Chung of Chinese-Taipei, 9-8, in the quarterfinals despite being up by six twice. The Filipinos escaped Austria’s Albin Ouschan and Mario He by the same scoreline in the semifinals.

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Germany made things interesting in the final when five straight racks off a Philippine miscue reduced the gap to 9-7. But Aranas and Chua avoided drama by closing out the title run.

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TAGS: Billiards, James Aranas, Johann Chua, World Cup of Pool

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