Amit, Centeno forge all-Pinay finals in SEA Games women’s 9-ball singles

Chezka Centeno. Joble

Chezka Centeno. Joble

SINGAPORE — Team Philippines will be raking in two medals in billiards after newbie Chezka Centeno and Rubilen Amit set up a clash for the gold medal in the women’s nine-ball singles billiards event of the 2015 Southeast Asian Games Monday at the OCBC Hall 4 here.

Centeno, a first time participant in the Games, barged her way into the finals via the backdoor when she pulled off a dramatic come-from-behind 7-5 win over her Thai opponent Siraphat Chimcomnart.

Amit, regarded as the country’s best women’s billiards player, on the other hand, cruised to an easy 7-2 win over Myanmar’s Aung Aye Mi a few hours later.

For Centeno, the new rising star of Philippine billiards, it’s another possible moment of playing against Amit which she admits is her idol.

“Si Rubilen idol ko yan. Gusto ko yung porma nya ng paglalaro,” Centeno told in an exclusive interview.

“Marami akong natutunan sa kanya, lalo na yung composure.”

It was against Amit where Centeno got her break. The 16-year-old bet from Zamboanga City stunned the two-time World Ten Ball champion in the finals of the Philippine National Games billiards tournament.

But for the billiards’ promising star, shrugging off nerves on the big stage like the SEA Games wasn’t an easy thing which was evident in her semis game against the Thai. Centeno had to rally back from a 2-5 deficit before pulling off a win via the back door.

“First time kaya ako kinakabahan,” said Centeno, who scratched the cue ball while aiming to pocket the no. 6 at the corner.

But Centeno refused to quit and had to do everything she knows brought by the experiences playing against men from a local pool house in Zamboanga to overcome the odds.

She found an opening in the eighth rack when her Thai rival miscalculated a safety shot at the no. 4, a moment seized by Centeno to clean up the table.

In the next rack, Centeno continued to make her run capped by a difficult shot at no. 9 to inch closer, 5-4.

The Filipina got aided by luck as in the 10th rack, her rival missed a long shot at the corner, allowing Centeno to clean up the remaining three balls and equalize the match.

Going for broke, Centeno sank two balls off the break then continued her surge to finally climb the hill, 6-5.

A scratch coming off a break proved to be a backbreaker for the Thai player as Centeno, who by then had gained more confidence, unleashed her killer’s instinct to get the job done.

Centeno said she would work extra hard in the finals.

“Mag-iinsayo akong mabuti para sa finals,” she said.

Amit, meanwhile, had a rather easy route to the gold medal match. After a 1-all tie in the first two racks, she captured six of the last seven and never allowed her Burmese foe to come back.

Centeno and Amit will meet on Tuesday’s finale.

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