Gabica Settles For Silver In Asiad 8-Ball

Filipino Antonio “Ga-Ga” Gabica failed to snare the country's first gold medal in single pool competition losing in the endgame to Japan's Satoshi Kawabata (9-7) in the men's eight-ball final in what was the closest a Filipino has ever got to the ultimate prize in this year's Asian Games in Doha, Qatar over the weekend.

The 34-year-old Gabica who hails from Lapu-Lapu City led 7-5 but Kawabata pulled off four straight racks to steal the gold medal away from the Filipino.

“ Muntik na sa first ever gold natin sa single competition sa cue sports event, sayang talaga (I almost won the first ever gold medal in the single competition).” Gabica said in a text message to his benefactor-businessman/sportsman Ceferino “Perry” Mariano after the match.

“ Hindi dapat tayo mahiya dahil ginawa ni Ga-Ga (Gabica) ang kanyang makakaya para magdala ng karangalan sa bansa kaso ganun talaga medyo kinapos sa banding huli (Ga-Ga did his best for the country but loss his game in the endgame.” Mariano added, also the manager of reigning World Pool champion Ronato “Ronnie Calamba” Alcano and current World Pool Leaque champion Dennis “Robocop” Orcullo.

Compatriot Leonardo “Dodong Dadiangas” Andam was unsuccessful in his bid for the bronze after a 9-5 defeat to Kung Chan Huang of Taiwan. On the way to the finals, the 34-year-old Gabica, one of the rising star players from Bugsy promotion defeated Gundsambuu Baatarchuluun ng Mongolia (9-1), Ricky Yang of Singapore (9-5), Alok Kumar of India (9-6) and Kun Chang Huang of Taiwan (9-7) in the semis.

Andam on the other hand, beat Hoang Lam Nguyen of Vietnam (9-2), Ayhab Naseef of Iraq (9-3) and Amnuayporn Chotipong of Thailand (9-8), respectively but loss to Kawabata (9-6) in the semi-final round matches for what could be a possible all Filipino finals and a sure gold for the Philippines if the former (Andam) prevails.

Earlier, Kawabata nipped Filipino-Malaysian Ibrahim Bin Amir (9-3) in the quarters.

Amir, a native of Mindanao and migrated in Malaysia upset 2005 World Pool 9-ball champion Wu Chia Ching of Taiwan (9-8) in the round-of-16.

Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) president Ernesto "Ernie" Fajardo lauded the feat of Gabica and the performance of Andam. “I'm proud of the boy's they do very best for the country's honor.”

In the distaff side, Yuan Chun Lin of Taiwan took the gold medal after a decision wins against reigning world champ Ga Young Kim of Korea, 7-6, in another thrilling championships round.

Four years ago, the Philippines won gold in the 9-ball doubles courtesy of Francisco "Django" Bustamante and Antonio "Nickoy" Lining in Busan, South Korea while the paired of Valle and Romeo "Snooky" Villanueva took the gold in the 9-ball doubles in 1998 Bangkok edition in Thailand. The doubles event was scrapped here in Doha games.

Back in Doha, Jeffrey “The Bull” De Luna, another uprising player from Bugsy promotion will open his Asiad debut against Sayeem Hossain of Bangladesh, while Gabica will meet Brunei's Raed Ahmed Ali Hummed.

In the women's 9-ball pool competition, Rubilen ”Bingkay” Amit will take on You Ram Cha of Korea, while Mary Ann Basas plays Vana Degermanji of Syria.

Amit, pride of Cebu province earlier dropped her match against Santhinee Jaisuekul of Thailand (7-4) in the round-of-16 of the 8-ball pool competition while Basas from Davao City collapsed to Zhou Mengmeng of China (7-6) in the round-of-8.