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‘Pogi’ masters mentor to pocket 10-ball gold

BY JONAS TERRADO

Chezka Centeno continued her mastery of mentor and close friend Rubilen Amit by claiming the women’s 10-ball singles gold of the 30th Southeast Asian Games with a 7-3 win in Saturday’s all-Filipino final at the Tent City of the Manila Hotel.

Centeno’s smooth pocketing coupled with Amit’s struggles on the break allowed the 20-year-old from Zamboanga City to win her third career SEA Games gold, adding to her women’s 9-ball victories in 2015 and 2017.

Chezka Centeno (left) and Rubilen Amit show off their medals after finishing 1-2 in the women’s 9-ball competition of the 29th SEA Games yesterday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Centeno beat Amit, 7-6 in the All-Filipino billiards final. (Ali Vicoy)

Chezka Centeno (right) and Rubilen Amit show off their medals.

As convincing as this latest win was compared to the 7-5 and 7-6 results she got in the SEAG 9-ball competitions in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Centeno was quick to point out that it wasn’t as easy as it looked.

“Mahirap to dahil may called shot,” said Centeno, mentioning the 10-ball rules where shots are supposed to be called.

“At walang break si Ate Tiyang,” the soft-spoken Centeno added, referring to Amit.

Amit, who calls Centeno “Pogi”, conceded that her struggles in 10-ball played a major factor in her defeat.

The two-time world champion had little chances to play tit for tat with Centeno, who took six of the first seven racks to immediately go on the hill.

It took a scratch by Centeno in the eighth rack for Amit to take the next two and cut the deficit to 6-3.

But Centeno responded by sinking two balls on the break and converting the next seven balls, forcing Amit to throw in the towel and give her former understudy a warm embrace.

“It’s very obvious in this match na talagang hindi gumagana break ko, laging dry. Tas si Chezka panay open,” she said. “Kaya yung 10-ball, binigay ko na baka humaba tayo, sabi ko.”

Both still have plenty to play as they’re also set to face off for the gold in the women’s 9-ball finals at 7 p.m. Sunday, with Amit hoping to make it a closely-fought affair.

“I hope it’s a better match as compared today,” Amit said. “But for me, magaling talaga si Chezka e, lalo na offensive niya so let’s see tomorrow.”

There’s also the chance of winning the gold as a team after reaching the quarterfinals of the women’s 9-ball doubles. They are due to meet Vutthiphan Kongkaket and Sasiwimon Wannaphathip, six hours before their 9-ball finals.

Centeno has a chance of ending these Games with three golds, if Saturday’s performance is an indication

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