The Philippines won an unprecedented fourth World Cup of Pool title after the tandem of Johann Chua and James Aranas beat the German pair of Joshua Filler and Moritz Neuhausen, 11-7, in the final Sunday at the Pazo de Feiras e Congresos de Lugo in Spain.
A blistering start set the tone for the Chua-Aranas duo’s masterclass against the Filler-Neuhausen tag team, although the Germans gave the Filipinos some scare near the end.
Chua and Aranas quickly drew near to the cusp of winning it all after going up, 9-2, even as Filler and Neuhausen were relegated to spectators for most of the early goings.
However, Team Germany came alive after winning the next five racks to cut the lead down to two, 9-7, with the crowd beginning to sense a huge comeback.
But on Rack 17, Chua converted on a 2-8 combination which eventually swung the momentum back to them as the Philippine duo finally moved to within match point.
In Rack 18, the German pair tried something tricky when they, with only a little chance at hitting the 2-ball after Chua’s safety shot and some time pressure, opted to go for an intentional foul by hitting the 7-ball directly to place it beside the 3-ball in hopes of a botch from him after Aranas’ shot at the 2.
However, Chua rattled the 3-ball in and put the 7-ball in a better spot to eventually clean up the rack and lift the championship trophy.
With Chua and Aranas’ win, the Philippines broke a tie with China for the winningest country in the WCOP with its first title since Dennis Orcullo and Lee Van Corteza connived for the 2013 championship.
Billiard legends Efren Reyes and Django Bustamante won the first two titles for the Philippines in 2006 and 2009.
Chua and Aranas also won US$60,000 (around PHP3.3 million) for ruling the event, while Filler and Neuhausen settled for the US$30,000 (around PHP1.65 million) runner-up prize.
Chua and Aranas’ journey could be considered arguably the biggest underdog story in the history of the event.
Entering the tournament unseeded, they shocked the world when they eliminated erstwhile champs Francisco Sanchez and David Alcaide right in the first round.
They then ousted the other Spanish contingent of Jonas Souto and Jose Alberto Delgado before escaping Chinese Taipei’s Ko Pin-Yi and Ko Ping-Chung and Austria’s Albin Ouschan and Mario He right at the final rack.
In the semifinal showdown against the Philippines, Austria failed to complete a comeback from 4-8 down as He scratched right at the break of the final rack, paving the way for Chua and Aranas to steal the rack and the win. (PNA)