RP’s First Gold In 9-Ball In DOHA Games

FILIPINO young pool sensation Jeffrey "The Bull" De Luna knock-out two-time defending champion and tournament favorites Yang Ching Shun of Taiwan (11-7) to arrange an all Filipino Finals against compatriot Antonio "Ga-Ga" Gabica who trounced Young Hwa Jeong of Korea (11-5) in other paired of semi-final round of the 9-ball pool men's single competition at the Al-Sadd Sports Club in Doha, Qatar late Monday.

The 22-year-old De Luna who hails from Tayabas, Quezon trounced Sayeem Hossain of Bangladesh (11-2) and Tepwin Arunnath of Thailand (11-2) victory and Yukio Akagariyama of Japan (11-10) in his first three matches.

While the 34-year-old Gabica, born in Sarangani province but raise in Lapu-Lapu City moved past Raed Ahmed Ali Hummed of Brunei (11-2), Filipino-Malaysian Ibrahim Bin Amir (11-5) and Xu Meng of China (11-8).

Gabica who earlier took the silver in the 8-ball men's single last Sunday are assured early merry Christmas P800,000 incentive awards from the Philippine government that feted to the Athletes who will deliver silver medal in the likes of Gabica and RP jins Mary Antoinette Rivero and Tshomlee Go who also bowed out in the gold medal race against invincible Koreans, Rivero and Go came up short. Rivero bowed to Hwang Kyung Seon, 1-6, while Go was beaten by Kim Ju Young, 1-4.

"I hope my husband (Gabica) will finally win the gold medal. He really wanted it especially after heart-breaking loss in the 8-ball singles finals." said the 33-year-old Jean, wife of Gabica in an early exclusive interview with this writer.

The Philippines has never won a singles event in cue sports in the Asian Games. The country though ruled the 9-Ball doubles competition in the past two staging with Gandy "Yang-Yang" Valle and Romeo "Snooky Rapid Fire" Villanueva doing the feat in the 1998 Bangkok Games, and the duo of Francisco "Django" Bustamante and Antonio "Nickoy" Lining duplicating in the 2002 Busan edition. The event, unfortunately, was scrapped here in Doha games.

Bugsy promotion head businessman/sportsman Ceferino "Perry" Mariano had something to say to his two players. "I would like to congratulate Ga-Ga (Gabica) and Jeff (De Luna). Both of you are proud of our nations."

Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) president Ernesto "Ernie" Fajardo expressed his elation to Gabica's and De Luna triumph in the semi-final round. "It's hard to express the honor that brought of Gabica and De Luna. In behalf of BSCP we are proud of you."

BSCP chairman and Raya Sports president Yen Macabenta added, " All credit belongs to our players-their talent, their toughness, their will to win. Our role at BSCP is simply to provide the opportunities for them to compete." added Macabenta, also the organizer of 2006 Philippine World Pool Championship won by Ronato "Ronnie Calamba" Alcano, also Bugsy stalwart.

RP billiards patron Aristeo "Putch" Puyat said. "Good news for us (Philippines)."

In the distaff side, Liu Shin Mei of Taiwan beat Kwan Esther Suet Yee of Malaysia (7-3) to pocket the gold medal while Pan Xiaoting of China edges Iris Rañola of the Philippines (7-6) to clinch the bronze medal.

Rañola, playing under the banner of Puyat Sports stable on the other hand, bowed to Kwan (4-7) in the final four while Liu beat Pan (7-3) to arrange a titular showdown with Kwan for the elusive gold medal. Not as fortunate is Rubilen "Bingkay" Amit, also from Puyat Sports stable who bowed out in the round-of-32 after absorbing a 5-7 defeat at the hands of You Ram Cha of Korea.

But the biggest upset by far was the shocking loss of top seed and reigning world women's 9-ball champion Ga Young Kim of Korea to Tawain's Hsiang Lin Tan (4-7) in the preliminary round.