Gabica, De Luna Seek Continue Their Asian Dominance Today

ANTONIO “Gaga” Gabica and Jeffrey “The Bull” de Luna seek to continue their Asian dominance – and that of the Filipinos to the world – as they represent the country in the 2006 Mezz Crowd Nine Cup Invitational Billiards Tournament, which unfurls today at the Crowd Nine Billiard hall in Tokyo, Japan.

Fresh from a gold-silver finish in the recent 15th Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, Gabica and De Luna will be up against representatives of three other Asian countries – Chinese-Taipei, Korea, and Japan – in this one-day Scotch Doubles-format competition, which offers a cool 1-million yen (around US$8,400 or Php 420,000) champion's purse.

“The tandem of Gabica and De Luna is a good choice for us to send in that tournament because not only they are fresh from a successful campaign in the Asian Games, but also they can very much relate with each other, which is necessary in a Scotch Doubles competition,” said Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) president Ernesto "Ernie" Fajardo.

Scotch Doubles format requires teammates to take shot alternately whether they make or miss the pocket.

“That's why it is necessary to have a good coordination, and since Gabica and De Luna are goods friends, both coming from Bugsy Promotions of Mr. Perry Mariano, and they practice together, I think they have a pretty strong chance of winning this tournament,” added Fajardo.

But to do so, Gabica and De Luna must hurdle the Taiwanese duo of former world champion Wu Chia Ching and Yang Ching-Shun, their first assignment in this knockout-format tourney.

It shall be recalled that Yang, Wu and another ex-world pool titlist Fong Pang-Chao complete Taiwanese domination in the recently concluded 2006 Super Cup in Taipei, Taiwan with 1-2-3 finish.

The other side of the draw has the Japanese pair of ex-world champ Kunihiko Takahashi and 17-year-old 2005 Velden, Austria World Junior runner-up Hayato Hijikata going up against the Korean tandem of Jeong Young-Hwa and Kim Woong-Dae.

“Gagawin namin ni Jeff ang lahat para makapagbigay muli ng karangalan sa ating bansa (We will do (Jeff) our best to bring honor once again to our country) ,” said the soft-spoken 34-year-old Gabica yesterday, before aboard Japan Airlines, who in the Asian Games emerged as the best Filipino athlete for winning the 9-Ball singles event – where he defeated De Luna in the finals – and bagging the silver in the 8-Ball competition.