ANTONIO Gabica and Carlo Biado stayed on track for an all-Filipino final in the World 9-Ball Championship as they look to hurdle their respective semifinal opponents at the Al Arabi Sports Indoor Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
Gabica reached the Final Four after beating Nick Van den Berg of the Netherlands in their tight quarterfinal contest, 11-10, while Biado followed suit as he romped past Chris Melling of Great Britain, 11-3, in their own Final Eight contest.
A gold medalist in the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, South Korea, the Qatar-based Gabica will face Karl Boyes of Great Britain in the semifinals, even as the 28-year-old Biado faces former champion Thorsten Hohman of Germany in the other semis pairing.
On his way to the Final Four, Boyes turned back Nick Ekonomopoulos of Greece, 11-8, while Hohman overcame Filipino Jeff De Luna, 11-7, to stay in contention for the top prize of US$36,000.
Gabica, playing under the Philippine llag but working as assistant coach of the Qatar national billiards team, got into a nip-and-tuck affair with Van den Berg, but was able to survive the battle of safeties in the 21st and final rack to clinch a semifinal berth.
“That was too much pressure there,” Gabica said in an interview with World Pool-Billiard Association. “I was very lucky there not to scratch in the last rack.”
“This is a big win for me, for the Philippines, and for Qatar. I hope I can continue to win tomorrow,” added the 41-year-old Filipino, who was cheered by the Qatari audience by chanting `Gaga!’ `Gaga’ during the match.
Biado, on the other hand, continued his magical ride in the tournament that saw him beat former world champion Ralf Souquet and American Shane Van Boening and Italian Fabio Petroni via hill-hill matches to enter the quarterfinal round.
After beating Van Boening and Petroni through similar scores of 11-10, Biado cruised past Melling by a wide margin in their quarterfinal playoff.
“I’m surprised at that match,” Biado said after reaching the semifinals. “There was no pressure. There was pressure with Shane and Petroni, but here I just felt very confident. I can’t believe it. This is really amazing.”
Victories by Gabica and Biado made up for the losses of Filipino bets Dennis Orcollo, Lee Van Corteza, Israel Rota, Ramil Gallego, and Marlon Manalo.
Orcollo lost to Hohman, 8-11, and Corteza bowed to Ekonomopoulos, 9-11, in the round-of-16.
Rota was eliminated in the round-of-32 against Lo Li Wen of Chinese Taipei, 2-11, ditto with Gallego, who was beaten by Melling, 7-11.
Manalo bowed to Petroni, 7-11, in the round-of-32.