A Dream Ending for Women’s World 10-Ball Championship

Rubilen Amit

Diminutive Rubilen Amit stood the tallest among 48 of the finest women pool players in the world when she provided a dream ending to the first JBET Poker.net Women's World 10-Ball Championship by capping an amazing run to beat Chinese-Taipei's two-time women's World 9-Ball Champion Shin Mei Liu 10-4 at a jam-packed SM North EDSA Mall in Quezon City late Sunday.
Three years ago in 2006 Ronnie Alcano routed European ace Ralf Souquet to win the World Pool Championship when the 9-ball event was staged in the Philippines for the very first time. Amit's triumph proved that Filipino players rise to new heights playing before their countrymen who share in the pride of their victories.
Amit who had stung the “Black Widow” Jeanette Lee in the quarter finals in a match that ended almost at midnight on Friday, coming back from an 8-6 deficit to win the last three racks for a nerve-wracking 9-8 triumph told us minutes before her semi-final match against eight-time Japanese women's “Player of the Year” Akimi Kajitani that she “didn't sleep a wink  Friday night thinking about her semi final match and the possibility of winning it all.”
Lack of sleep and the excitement as well as pressure playing before a huge hometown crowd that suddenly awakened to the potential of women's pool and the Filipinas ability to match the achievements of our legendary men players led by Efren “Bata” Reyes  didn't appear to bother Amit who planned to “go out there and have fun, no matter whether I win or lose.”
And she did have fun playing some of the finest pool in her young career which has seen her win three gold medals in the regional Southeast Asian Games.
Benefiting from a handful of errors by Kajitani in the semi finals which Amit won 9-6, the petite Filipina left the best for last as she played some exquisite shots when she needed to, that put the pressure on her Taiwanese opponent down the stretch.
One particular shot Amit played brought the fans to their feet, limp with emotion. Leading 8-4 Amit sank the 5-ball into the side pocket with an incredible double rail kick shot  that drew a roar from the crowd. It  was as magical as some of the shots that “Bata” Reyes has mesmerized opponents with in his heyday and set the seal on an epic ending which couldn't have been written by the best Hollywood scriptwriter.
First on the hill, Amit was not to be denied her fairytale ending as she coolly ran down one ball after another and line-up the final shot on the 10-ball, perfectly. As the ball dropped into the pocket Amit went down on one knee and was embraced by Liu not once but twice in a great gesture of sportsmanship as other players who watched from the sidelines rushed to embrace and congratulate the newest darling of Philippine pool.
Amit who finished runner-up in the 2007 Amway World Women's 9-Ball Championship in Chinese-Taipei said she “only realized she had won when she sank the final ball” and paid tribute to Liu saying even if she was down 4-9 she had the skill to come back and win.
Addressing the fans at the event presented by Dragon Promotions, ABS-CBN Sports and Bugsy Promotions and also telecast “live” in Asia by ESPN Star Sports, Amit thanked the fans for their support and said “I won because of you.”
Charlie Williams of Dragon Promotions who is  himself a great pool player praised Amit by comparing her to Reyes in terms of her humility, her soft-spoken demeanor and her down-to-earth manner.
Cindy Lee, the head of Dragon Promotions was ecstatic over the success of the event which was covered “live” by the giant broadcast network ABS-CBN over Studio 23 and shown globally on The Filipino Channel.
Lee said there could not have been a better ending even as she praised Filipinos for their kindness and their warm welcome which made them feel so at home.
Amit never looked like even making the final four when she was trounced by World No.1 Kelly Fischer in the opening round 5-1.  But she quickly learned from her mistakes, made the necessary adjustments to trounce Julie Kelly of Ireland 8-4 and Hsiang Ling Tan of Chinese-Taipei 8-3 in the knockout phase  before stunning Jeanette Lee 9-8 in the quarter finals.
For her magnificent effort Amit took home the top prize of $20,000 which is almost P1 million but more than that carved a name for herself in the record books as the first winner of the Women's World 10-Ball Championship and provided a boost to the sport in the Philippines which has been regrettably  wracked by dissension in the national sports association for pool.