Gabica, De Luna Finish Third in Japan Scotch Doubles

THE FILIPINO pair of Antonio “Ga-Ga” Gabica and Jeffrey “The Bull” de Luna bounced back an opening match setback to the Taiwanese pair of Yang Ching-Shun and Wu Chia-Ching, 9-7, by trouncing Jeong Young-Hwa and Kim Woong-Dae of Korea , 9-1, to secure the third-place finish in the 2006 Mezz Crowd Nine Cup billiards tournament late Saturday in Tokyo , Japan .

The Filipino duo, who came off a gold-silver finish in the 15th Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, also went home with 400,000-yen (about Php 168,000), capping their successful year, and that of the Philippine billiards in general.

Wu, the 2005 World Pool Championship winner, and Yang, the 1998 and 2002 Asian games 9-ball gold medal winner likewise defeated host country's led by another ex-world champion Kunihiko Takahashi and 2005 Velden, Austria World Junior runner-up 17-year-old Hayato Hijikata, 10-7, in the finals to bag the crown in this one-day Scotch doubles tournament. They also took home the top purse of 1-million yen (around US$8,400 or Php 420,000) champion's purse.

Gabica and De Luna could have contended for the title as they actually romped off to a strong start against the Taiwanese. They lead from 5-1 to 6-3 before Gabica committed a scratch that allowed the Wu-Yang pair to turn the table and grab an 8-7 lead.

The Filipino tandem had a chance to send the match into a hill-hill ending, but Gabica's break of the 16th rack resulted in a difficult layout, forcing De Luna to commit a bad shot, and the Taiwanese duo wiped it out to seal the win.

“We did our beat, but the breaks went their way particularly in the latter part of the match,” Gabica was quoted by Bugsy Promotions head Ceferino “Perry” Mariano as saying.

“The draw also did not favor us as we met the Taiwanese in the first match. It could have been a different story have they met them later,” added Mariano, who also had De Luna under his stable.

Takahashi and Hijikata grabbed the 600,000-yen (about Php 252,000) runner-up prize, while Jeong and Kim walked away with 300,000-yen (about Php 126,000).

“It would have been a great follow up to their Asian Games triumph, and exclamation point of the Filipinos dominance of the sport, especially this year. But nevertheless it's still a worthy performance, especially that the tournament, besides being short, employed a kind of tough format,” said Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) president Ernesto “Ernie” Fajardo