by Kristel Satumbaga
Jeff de Luna fell short in his bid to end the country’s title drought in the US Open 9-Ball Championship after losing to eventual champion Joshua Filler of Germany, 11-8, in the semis on Friday at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
De Luna, 33, was in control of the match early as he took leads of 5-2 and 8-7 until Filler found his touch to turn things around by claiming the next four racks.
The German went on to win the crown and the top prize of $50,000 by downing Chinese Wu Jiaqing, 13-10.
De Luna settled for $12,000 (roughly P612,000) prize.
Wu advanced to the final with an 11-5 win over Taiwanese Chang Yu-Lung.
De Luna’s semis loss extended the country’s agony to 15 years.
The last time a Filipino won the prestigious event was in 2005 courtesy of Alex Pagulayan.
Pagulayan, who lost badly to De Luna in the quarters, 11-5, is now playing for Canada.
The only other Filipino to have won the event was De Luna’s idol – Efren “Bata” Reyes who reigned supreme in 1994.
De Luna’s other victims in the 256-man field event were Liu Haitao, 11-5; Japan’s Kenichi Uchigaki, 11-3; Dennis Orcollo, 11-10; and American Chris Robinson, 11-9.