GO FOR GOLD: Two-time world billiards champion Rubilen Amit discusses PH's chances in the 30th SEA Games during TOPS 'Usapang Sports' at the National Press Club in Intramuros on Thursday (April 11, 2019). Also in photo (L-R) are 2017 Los Angeles World Police 9-ball billiards campaigner Eric “Billiard Cop” Bayhon, TOPS president Ed Andaya and Amit's teammate Floriza Andal. (Photo courtesy of TOPS)
MANILA -- Do you want to become the next Rubilen Amit?
Well, this is the best time to be like Amit with women's billiards looking to regain its popularity among Filipinos in time for the coming 30th Southeast Asian Games in Manila.
In fact, Amit is now doing her share by teaching young and talented female billiards players with the hope of producing the next generation of champions.
A two-time world billiards 10-ball champion in 2009 and 2013, Amit believes billiards will continue to produce more memorable moments in sports for the Filipinos.
“Billiards remains a very popular sport in the country despite some problems in the past," said Amit during the 18th “Usapang Sports” presented by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) at the National Press Club in Intramuros on Thursday.
Amit, one of four members of the Philippine women's team seeing action in the SEA Games scheduled Nov. 30-Dec. 11, expressed confidence that the Filipinos will perform well and possibly capture most of the six gold medals at stake in the men's and women's billiards.
“Malaki ang pag-asa natin sa billiards, lalo na sa SEA Games dito sa atin (We have a big chance in billiards since SEA Games will be held here),” said the 27-year-old pride of Mandaue City, who will compete in the 9-ball singles, 10-ball singles and 9-ball doubles with Chezka Centeno.
“Hopefully, ma-sweep namin yung tatlong events sa women’s billiards. Masaya kami lalo na kung maging all-Filipino uli ang finals (Hopefully, we will be able to sweep all three events in women’s billiards. We’ll be happy if it would be all-Filipino finals),” added Amit, who finished runner-up to Iris Ranola in the 2017 edition in Kuala Lumpur.
Amit pointed to Indonesia as the biggest threat to the country’s gold medal aspirations.
While admitting that lack of local tournaments hampered the growth of both men’s and women’s billiards, Amit said the Filipinos did not lose a step as far as international competitions are concerned.
She mentioned Carlos Biado, who captured the world title in 2017 and narrowly missed a back-to-back championship last year.
“Hindi naman nawawala young kasikatan nina Efren “Bata” Reyes, Django Bustamante at iba pang billiards champions natin. Medyo nawala lang yung ingay dahil na rin sa kakulangan ng local tournaments ngayon (Efren Reyes, Django Bustamante and other billiards champions remain popular but momentum slowed down due to lack of local tournaments),” Amit said.
But the University of Santo Tomas graduate knows what to do to lure back the fans and eventually, the sponsors.
“We need to produce good female players. The more, the better. I encouraged the youth who love billiards to train for free under my watch,” she said.
Amit was joined in the weekly sports forum supported by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and HG Guyabano Tea Leaf Drink by fellow national billiards team member Floriza Andal and 2017 Los Angeles World Police 9-ball billiards campaigner Eric “Billiard Cop” Bayhon.
“I’m excited because it’s my first time to play for national team. I will do my best to win in the SEA Games,” said Andal, a native of Cabuyan, Laguna.
A snooker specialist, Andal will join Centeno in the women’s doubles.