Rubilen Amit delivered the first billiards gold for Team Philippines on Tuesday in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, beating Singaporean Jessica Chan 7-2 in the finals of 9-ball singles at the Hadong District Sporting Hall.
The Philippines is also assured of the gold medal in men’s 9-ball singles with Carlo Biado, the 2021 US Open champion, facing Johann Chua in an all-Filipino finals Wednesday.
Jeffrey Roda was set to play in the men’s snooker 6-red singles finals late last night.
Amit, 40, the winner of the 9-ball gold in 2005 and 2009 before shifting to 10-ball, jumped to an early 3-0 lead against the Singaporean but needed to survive some scare along the way.
Chan made it 2-3 before the skillful Amit regained her bearing and won the next four racks to pocket her ninth gold medal in the SEA Games, most of them in 10-ball singles.
“Bahagyang nag-shift ‘yung momentum so focus lang ako. Mahirap ‘yung lamang ka tapos mahahabol ka. Mawawala ka,” said Amit, who wrapped up the title in one hour and 18 minutes.
Amit pounced on her opponent’s dry break in the ninth and last frame, clearing the table with ease. She smiled as she faced her final shot, then sank the 9-ball into the corner pocket.
The pride of Cebu raised her cue stick with both hands, heaved a sigh of relief, made the sign of the cross, and shook the hand of her game opponent.
“Alam ko naman na laban talaga ito. Hindi naman ibibigay sa akin. Hindi naman siya nag-give up. Laban talaga. Expected ko naman ‘yung dikitan pero mabuti na lang hindi umabot doon,” said Amit.
“Medyo’ yung puso natin ang bilis na ng tibok,” said Amit, who advanced to the finals after beating Hu Ming Tan of Singapore in the semis 7-2.
On men’s 6-red snooker singles, Jefrey Roda’s Cinderella run ended with the country’s first-ever medal in the event.
The long-time national cue artist finished with the silver after a 3-5 defeat against Malaysia’s Lim Keok Leong in the final.
Legend Efren “Bata” Reyes is still in the running in the 1-cushion carom singles as well as Chezka Centeno, who lost early in 9-ball singles but is still in the hunt in 10-ball-singles where she is the reigning champion.
Coach Django Bustamante is counting on Centeno to deliver the gold.
“Papapak ‘yan sa 10-ball,” said the World 10-ball champion in 2010, who watched from the sidelines as Amit secured the gold for Team Philippines.
“Of course, kinabahan din ako. ‘Yung mga kababayan kasi natin gusto manalo tayo ng gold sa billiards,” he said.