KUALA LUMPUR – Pool legend Efren “Bata” Reyes said Chezka Centeno and Rubilen Amit are heads and shoulders above their rivals in the 29th Southeast Asian Games, it may take a generation before the other players can catch up.
“Malayong malayo ang mga kalaban,” said Reyes as the team prepared to leave the Malaysian capital Monday.
“Makikita mo naman sa galaw. Wala, eh. Wala akong nakikitang bagong player na puwedeng lumaban kina Chezka at Rubilen,” said Reyes who took part in English Billiards, an event rarely played back home.
“Ako, nagsimula eight years old, 12 nakikipaglaban na ako,” he added.
Centeno, 18, edged Amit, 7-6, Sunday after the 36-year-old, six-time Games champion scratched on the 13th rack after dropping the seven ball.
“Napasigaw nga ako dahil wala talaga scratch yung tira. Disgrasya talaga,” said Amit who has now lost to Centeno for the second straight Games in the final.
So dominating were Centeno and Amit, they gave up a combined 10 racks against two opponents.
Against Angelina Ticoalu of Indonesia, Centeno won, 7-4.
Ticoalu is best remembered for upsetting Amit in the 2013 final in Naypyidaw, Myanmar – the only time the Philippines lost the gold medal since 2005.
Centeno then smothered Klaudia Djalie of Malaysia, 7-2, in the semifinals.
Amit, who won the first three staging of the event, clobbered Silviana Lu of Singapore, 7-3, and overwhelmed Suhana Dewi Sabtu, 7-1, in the semifinals.
Until the scratch against Centeno, Amit was doing well.
Amit has now lost the last four finals in the Games.
World Games champion Carlo Biado had an easy final against Durong Quoc Hoang of Vietnam, surging to a 4-0 lead on his way to a 7-5 win.
Hoang eliminated Johann Chua in the semifinals.
Biado, ranked ninth in the world, defended the title won by Dennis Orcollo two years ago in Singapore.
The 9-ball pool doubles slipped from the country’s grasp when Orcollo and Warren Kiamco were beaten in the semifinals by eventual winners Toh Lian Han and Aloysius Yapp in the quarterfinals.
All the five medals won by the Filipinos – two golds, one silver and two bronzes – came from the pool events.