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Alcano, Amit claim billiards breakthru wins

VIENTIANE, Laos – World champions Ronnie Alcano and Rubilen Amit claimed two gold medals after five long days and four failed attempts by the Filipinos in the billiards and snooker competition of the 25th Southeast Asian Games yesterday at the Don Chan Hotel along the Mekong River.

With nothing but personal pride at stake, Alcano defeated compatriot Gandy Valle, 7-1, in an all-Filipino finale to pocket the country’s first gold and silver medals, while Amit crushed Indonesian Angeline Magdalena Ticoalu, 5-2, by late afternoon for the second gold.

The two gold medals and one silver put the Philippines on top of the overall billiards standings, making up for devastating losses by teammates in the 9-ball doubles, snooker doubles and carom singles and just yesterday, the English singles days earlier.

Amit, the 2005 SEAG gold medalist, drew a bye into the quarterfinals where she nipped Malaysian Suhana Dewi Sabtu, 5-4. She outplayed Vietnamese Duong Thuy Yi, 5-4, in the semifinals and advanced to the gold medal round against her Indonesian rival.

But what looked like another all-Filipino final in the English billiards singles yesterday could not materialize as Reynaldo Grandea and Efren “Bata” Reyes, playing in separate brackets, crashed out after the first round.

Grandea was soundly routed by Vietnamese Nguyen Trung Kien, 100-70, 100-30, 101-57, while Reyes, who lost to the Thais in the 9-ball doubles on opening day Dec. 9 in partnership with Django Bustamante, was no match for Moh Loon Hong of Malaysia, 102-66, 54-100, 101-96, 101-35.

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The Filipinos earlier failed to land any medal in the 9-ball doubles, the snooker doubles played by Roberto Gomez and Carlo Biado, and carom singles through Rodolfo Luat and Grandea.

Reyes and Bustmante lost to Thais Nitiwat Kanjanasri and Surathep Phoochalam, 7-4. The Thais went on to win the gold over Myanmar, 3-1. Singapore won the bronze over Malaysia, 3-0.

The pair of Gomez and Biado bowed to the Thai tandem of Issara Kachaiwon and Phaithoon Phonbun, 3-1, in the battle for the bronze in the snooker doubles Thursday. Singapore won the gold, Malaysia the silver and Thailand the bronze.

In cushion carom singles, Grandea won over Aung San Oo of Myanmar, but lost in the quarterfinals to Vietnamese Cao Thanh Truc, 100-49.

Luat had a bye in the quarterfinals, but was soundly beaten by another Vietnamese, Dang Dinh Tien, 100-50, in the semifinals. He also lost to Indonesian Tan Kiong An, 99-94, in the battle for third. The final round became an all-Vietnam affair, with Dang Dinh winning the gold.

The Filipinos hope to win the last three golds at stake as they wind up their campaign in the six-day competitions where eight men’s and two women’s events are played. Iris Ranola and Amit also start their campaign in the 9-Ball singles today, hoping to make it a 1-2 All-Filipino finale. Ranola drew a bye in the upper half of the draw while Amit, in the lower half, faces Suvandid Safduode of Laos.

Both games start at 1 p.m. On Wednesday, at 9 a.m., Alex Pagulayan and Biado also hope for a 1-2 All-RP finale in the snooker singles but they will have their hands full against the world-class Thai entries. Pagulayan, the 2007 SEA Games gold medalist in the event, faces Nguyen Anh Tuan of Vietnam in the first round, while Biado takes on Lai Chee Wei of Malaysia. A win sends them to the quarterfinals in the afternoon. Ramil Gallego and Dennis Orcollo compete in the 9-ball singles, also hoping they march all the way to the final to assure a gold-silver finish for the Philippines. Gallego, however faces Philippine tormentor Nitiwat Kanjanasri of Thailand in the upper half of the draw while Orcollo plays opposite Teo Chee Soon of Brunei. All preliminary games are held in the morning, with the winners advancing to the quarterfinals in the afternoon. The semifinals and finals are held a day later.  

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