Amit confident of chances in billiards at SEA Games 2019

SEA Games bound Rubilen Amit (right) and newcomer Floriza Andal

A two-time world billiards 10-ball champion in 2009 and 2013, Rubilen Amit believes billiards will continue to produce more memorable moments in sports for the Filipinos.

“Billiards remains a very popular sport in the country despite some problems in the past,” said Amit during the 18th “Usapang Sports” presented by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) at the National Press Club in Intramuros yesterday.

SEA Games bound Rubilen Amit (right) and newcomer Floriza Andal
SEA Games bound Rubilen Amit (right) and newcomer Floriza Andal

Amit, one of four members of the Philippine women’s team seeing action in the SEA Games scheduled Nov. 30-Dec. 11, expressed confidence that the Filipinos will perform well and possibly capture most of the six gold medals at stake in the men’s and women’s billiards.

“Malaki ang pag-asa natin sa billiards, lalo na sa SEA Games dito sa atin,” said the 27-year-old pride of Mandaue City, who will compete in the 9-ball singles, 10-ball singles and 9-ball doubles with Chezka Centeno.

“Hopefully, ma-sweep namin yung tatlong events sa women’s billiards. Masaya kami lalo na kung maging all-Filipino uli ang finals,” added Amit, who finished runner-up to Iris Ranola in the 2017 edition in Kuala Lumpur.

Amit pointed to Indonesia as the biggest threat to the country’s gold medal aspirations.

While admitting that lack of local tournaments hampered the growth of both men’s and women’s billiards, Amit said the Filipinos did not lose a step as far as international competitions are concerned.

She mentioned Carlos Biado, who captured the world title in 2017 and narrowly missed a back-to-back championship last year.

“Hindi naman nawawala young kasikatan nina Efren “Bata” Reyes, Django Bustamante at iba pang billiards champions natin. Medyo nawala lang yung ingay dahil na rin sa kakulangan ng local tournaments ngayon,” added Amit.

But the University of Santo Tomas graduate knows what to do to lure back the fans and eventually, the sponsors.

“We need to produce good female players. Mas madami, mas maganda. Sa ngayon, hinihikayat ko sa aking Facebook page ang mga kabataan na mahilig ng billiards na magsanay ng libre sa akin.”

“Kahit nga po one-on-one tutorial, payag ako. Libre ito at walang gagastusin ang nais na matuto ng billiards. Araw-araw po ang training namin. After ng ensayo, puwede ko silang maturuan kasama ang iba pang national players natin.”

Amit was joined in the weekly sports forum supported by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and HG Guyabano Tea Leaf Drink by fellow national billiards team member Floriza Andal and 2017 Los Angeles World Police 9-ball billiards campaigner Eric “Billiard Cop” Bayhon.

“First time ko po sa national team kaya medyo excited. Pero pipilitin ko po na manalo sa SEA Games,” said Andal, a native of Cabuyan, Laguna.

A snooker specialist, Andal will join Centeno in the women’s doubles.

Also present during the session were Pilipinas Lady Warriors wheelchair basketball players Patricia Castro, Cecilia Naceno, Kimberly Dongayo, and Jean De Los Reyes, coach Vernon Perea and assistant coach Harry Solanoy.