MANILA, Philippines - Unheralded Filipino Johann Chua continued to pull off surprises in the 23rd WPA World 9-Ball Championship, winning a second straight game to lead the march of seven Filipinos into the Round-of-64 Monday at Al Saad Sports Club in Doha, Qatar.
A last-minute qualifier, Chua followed up his 9-2 victory over veteran American campaigner Corey Deuel with a 9-6 win over Taiwanese Lo Li Wen in Group 13 to reach the knockout stages in his maiden stint in the annual event featuring the world’s best players.
Similarly romping off with win No. 2 in their respective groups and advancing to the Last-64 were 2013 runner-up Antonio Gabica (Group 4), Dennis Orcollo (Group 7), world no. 3 Carlo Biado (Group 8), Jeff de Luna (Group 14) and qualifiers Raymund Faraon (Group 9) and Elmer Haya (Group 16).
Gabica nipped Croatian Michel Bartol, 9-3, while Orcollo drubbed Taiwanese Ko Ping Chung, 9-6, Biado turned back Swedish Tom Storm, 9-7, and de Luna whipped compatriot Israel Rota, 9-3. Faraon and Haya moved forward after beating Korean Jeong Yong Hwa, 9-7, and Ukrainian Artem Koshouyi, 9-6, respectively.
Warren Kiamco (Group 6) and Elvis Calasang (Group 10) were halted by Dutch Niels Fiejn (5-9) and Chinese Wu Jiaqing (7-9), respectively, to fall to the one-loss side. Kiamco, Calasang and Rota can still join the money rounds if they beat their respective opponents in the loser’s bracket.
The, youthful Chua, however, said he’s playing the $200,000 tournament virtually pressure-free.
“There’s no pressure on me right now because I was supposed to be dead,” Chua said on the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) website.
Chua fell short of a qualifying spot but caught a break when a slot opened up after a competitor from Peru backed out. He trounced Japanese Arita Hideaki in a playoff for the last berth, 5-1.
“I got lucky to get into the tournament. In the qualifiers I was playing afraid and if I had a difficult shot I played safe because I didn’t want to lose. But here in the main tournament since I’m not supposed to be here, I just play loose. Instead of playing safe, I might go for the tough bank shot. So that’s my mindset. There is no pressure,” he said.
A lot of people don’t believe I can win this tournament. But for me I can win. I always have confidence,” he added.
Seven Filipinos on the loser’s side – Ramil Gallego, Kiamco, Efren “Bata” Reyes, Calasang, Francisco Felicilda, Rota, and Lee Van Corteza – were trying to claim their own Round-of-64 berths last night.