Pool ace, archers deliver golds

Archers Abby and Pia Bidaure and Phoebe Amistoso get emotional after their gold medal-winning performance.

HANOI—Johann Chua won an all-Filipino final with Carlos Biado in men’s 9-ball of billiards as eagle-eyed sisters Abby and Pia Bidaure and Phoebe Amistoso gave the country its first archery gold medal on Wednesday in the 31st Southeast Asian Games.

Chua pounced on two improbable miscues by reigning US Open champion Biado to carve a 9-6 victory and crown himself the new 9-ball billiards champion of the Games that was postponed from November last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was the second gold medal from billiards for Team Philippines whose grip of the No. 3 spot in the overall medals race was threatened by Indonesia as of late afternoon on Wednesday.

Host Vietnam broke the 100-gold barrier and continued to widen the gap with 108 gold, 67 silver and 68 bronze medals for a commanding edge over second-running Thailand, which so far hauled 46 gold, 50 silver and 72 bronze medals.

The Philippines was 36-42-55 gold-silver-bronze at No. 3 with Indonesia a gold behind at 35-36-40.

Archery contributed its first gold to the Philippine coffers following a 26-25 nail-biter over Vietnam in a thrilling shoot-off for the women’s team recurve title at the Hanoi National Training Center.

Philippine Olympic Committee President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino awards the gold and silver medals to men’s 9-ball 1-2 finishers Johann Chua and Carlos Biado.

Abby Bidaure, 20, emerged as the heroine for Team Philippines, hitting the bullseye in the final arrow of the shoot-off for a 10 with just 10 seconds left on the clock.

That drew loud cheers from the other Philippine team members watching Bidaure from behind in the thrilling showdown.

The team included Bidaure’s sister, Pia, and Phoebe Amistoso. They battled back with a 57-49 win in the fourth frame after trailing 1-2 in the first three, forcing a shoot-off that came down to Abbu’s winning shot.

“It’s my first time in the SEA Games and I was so nervous,” Chua, 29, said. “I couldn’t get over this one yet, it’s really different when you compete for flag and country.”

Chua fell on his knees after the winning shot and gave Biado, interestingly his roommate at the team hotel, a right bear hug.

Biado was favored to rule the all-Filipino finals but missed easy shots in the 12th and 15th racks, to the surprise of the big crowd at the Ha Dong District Sporting Hall.

Trailing 5-6 in the 12th, Biado, 39, failed to pocket the 9-ball but still smiled after the error. He also failed to sink the 8-ball three racks later, with Chua gamely taking over both times to win his first SEA Games gold.

Biado, who failed in his bid to reclaim the title he won in the 2017 Games, raised Chua’s hand after the match.

“My hands trembled when Carlo made the error,” Chua said. “But I really wanted to win the gold medal…I told  myself ‘God, You’re the Best.’”

The 1-2 finishers had fun competing in the SEA Games and the night before the final, they shared happy moments together.

“We had fun last night and I told Carlo, I’ll break his arm and if he snores loudly, I’ll cut his throat,” Chua said. “Me and Carlo are that close and we’re both happy that we guaranteed the gold for our country.”

The billiards team headed by team manager Roy Malinao and head coach Django Bustamante was ecstatic with the 1-2 finish and are counting on medals in the men’s and women’s 10-ball.

Efren “Bata” Reyes, meanwhile, absorbed a 100-55 defeat to Vietnam’s Tran Thanh Tan Nguyen and salvaged a bronze medal in men’s 1-cushion carom.

Jefrey Roda bagged the silver in men’s snooker 6-red singles on Tuesday night after losing to Keen Hoo Moh of Malaysia in the final match.

Francisco de la Cruz yielded to Quoc Tuan Pham of Vietnam in the semifinals of the same event 100-20 and will go home with a bronze medal.

Pia Bidaure, who won her first SEA Games gold in her third try, expected Abby to hit the bullseye and make the difference in the tightly-fought contest.

“We trusted Abby to make the winning shot even though there were only 10 seconds left for her,” Pia said. “But we felt we could win because we’ve prepared hard for this in training.”

The archery team shoots for its second gold on Thursday when it battles Malaysia in the finals of the compound bow mixed team event.

The team of Paul de la Cruz and Jennifer Jing Chan came from behind to edge Thailand, 155-154, in the semifinals last Tuesday while the Malaysians beat Vietnam 154-152.

Image credits: Nonie Reyes


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