KUALA LUMPUR: An impromptu team-building session and birthday celebration could set the tone for an impressive campaign of the national cue artists in the 29th Southeast Asian Games here.
Veterans Efren “Bata” Reyes and Francisco “Django” Bustamante celebrated the birthday of Cheska Centeno before presiding an open forum to plot how they could retain their dominance in the region’s most prestigious athletic conclave.
Centeno, the 18-year old prodigy from Zamboanga City, is nursing a broken heart after a sorry campaign in the World Games in Poland, and Reyes and Bustamante wasted no time in boosting her morale by celebrating her birthday upon her return to Manila last June 30.
Billiard Sports Confederation of the Philippines (BSCP) secretary general Robert Mananquil said Centeno was on her way to claim the gold medal in the women’s 9-ball competition, but a late-match mishap pushed her to a 6-9 setback to Chen Siming of China in the semifinals.
Centeno went on to absorb another loss to Han Yu, 3-9, in the battle for bronze medal to finish fourth in the quadrennial meet.
Mananquil added that they are looking to dominate the men’s and women’s 9-ball events as well as the 9-ball doubles of the SEA Games.
“The veterans, Bata and Django, do not want it to happen again in the SEA Games,” he said.
Carlo Biado, on the other hand, finished with a gold medal in the World Games and Mananquil expects him to assert his dominance over fancied cue artists from Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.
Besides Biado, also seeing action in the men’s 9-ball event is former Asian juniors champion Johann Cua while veterans Warren Kiamco and Dennis Orcollo will carry the fight in the men’s 9-ball doubles event.
Centeno, for her part, will have former SEA Games gold medalist Rubilen Amit on her side in the women’s 9-ball doubles event while Reyes will see action in men’s English billiards singles before teaming up with Francisco Dela Cruz in the men’s English billiards doubles event.