Pinoys Gabica, Biado storm into World 9-Ball Championship Final Four

The Philippines now has a 50% shot at winning it all in Doha, Qatar.
Filipinos Antonio Gabica and Carlo Biado are just two wins away from the WPA World 9-Ball Championship crown.

On Friday afternoon Gabica tangles against England's former world 8-Ball champ Karl Boyes in one semifinal, while Biado matches up against Thorsten Hohmann of Germany, keeping alive the hopes of a dream All-Filipino Final.

After an enthralling day of Pool in the Al Arabi Sports Club, a field of 32 players was whittled down to just four.

Gabica, who has been living in Qatar for the past four years and is an assistant coach of the Qatari national team, first took out Germany's former world champ Oliver Ortmann in the round of 32 then outplayed tough Chinese Taipei star Ko Pin Yi 11-9 in the next round.

The quarterfinal against Dutchman Nick Van Den Berg was a nervy affair that went down to the last rack but with the boisterous support of both Filipinos and Qataris in the crowd, the son of Lapu-lapu City was able to emerge victorious from a late safety battle and win 11-10.

ALSO READ: Russel Westbrook conquers New York Fashion Week (video).

“That was too much pressure there” admitted Gabica after. “I was very lucky not to scratch in the final rack. This is a big win for me, the Philippines and Qatar. I hope I can continue to win tomorrow.

Gabica next faces the 2010 8-Ball world champ, Karl Boyes, who trumped Greek Mosconi Cupper Nick Ekonomopolous 11-8 in the quarters.

Biado had an equally tense path to the semifinals. In the round-of-32 he tripped top American Shane Van Boening 11-10.

ALSO READ: Fibr-PH Power Pinays “Final 12” Volleyball team bared.

The Quezon City shooter took an early 6-0 lead but Van Boening fought back to force a deciding rack, remarkable since this tournament is using the Alternate Break format.

The Pinoy cleared the final rack after the South Dakotan was unable to pocket the ball off a jump shot, to win 11-10.

Italy's Fabio Petroni was next and although Gabica took an early 5-2 lead, Petroni battled back to reach the hill first, 10-8. But Biado steadied his nerves to grab the next two racks then survived yet another final-rack decider to win 11-10.

Biado finally had an easier time in his quarterfinal, disposing of England's Chris Melling 11-3. The 29-year old ran out six of his seven breaks to doom the Englishman.

ALSO READ: Djokovic fired up to recapture Davis Cup glory.

“There was no pressure” said Biado. “There was pressure with Shane and Petroni but here I just felt very confident. I can't believe it. This is really amazing.”

Biado now meets the 2003 champion of this event, Germany's Thorsten Hohmann, who has had the toughest road to the semifinals by far. On Wednesday he began his day by ending the reign of 2012 champ Darren Appleton via an 11-5 score, then defeated world number two Dennis Orcollo 11-8 in the round-of-16. A quarterfinal win over yet another Filipino, Jeff De Luna, via an 11-7 scoreline, propelled him into the semis.

Hohmann took a 10-3 lead before De Luna reeled off four straight racks to revive his hopes of victory, only to see the German wrap up the match with a win in rack 18.

The 34-year-old veteran from Fulda will need to defeat a third Filipino on the trot if he hopes to lift a second World 9 Ball Championship trophy.

Biado and Gabica hope to join an elite group of Filipino winners of WPA-sanctioned World Championships that includes Efren Reyes (8-Ball and 90Ball), Ronnie Alcano (8-Ball and 9-Ball), Alex Pagulayan (9-Ball), Francisco Bustamante (the last Pinoy 9-Ball champ in 2010), Orcollo (8-Ball), and Rubilen Amit (Womens 10-Ball.)

Another Pinoy with high hopes going into the penultimate day was Lee Vann Corteza, but his tournament was ended when he lost to Ekonomopolous 11-9 in the round of 16.

The champion will bank US$36,000 for his week's work, while the runner up receives US$18,000. The semifinalists are already guaranteed US$10,000 each.

The semifinals lag simultaneously on Friday at 1:30 pm local time (6:30 pm Philippine time) while the final begins at 5:00 pm local time, or 10pm.

There is a possibility of live streaming for one semifinal and the final. The matches may be available on streaming on this link but that has yet to be confirmed as of press time. Please follow the tournament's official Facebook page for official word on the streaming link. You may also follow the World Pool-Billiard Association's Twitter @poolwpa.

Follow Bob on Twitter @bhobg333. Special thanks to Ted Lerner and Takao Takayama of for their help.