By JONAS TERRADO
Carlo Biado claimed one of world pool’s biggest titles after rallying back to defeat Singapore’s Aloysius Yapp, 13-8, Saturday (Sunday, Sept. 19 Philippine time) and win the US Open Pool Championship at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Staring at an 8-3 deficit in the race-to-13 final, Biado refused to buckle, launching a stirring comeback by taking the next 10 racks on his way to taking home the Barry Behrman trophy, a green jacket and the top purse of $50,000 (roughly P2.5 million).
Usually calm and collected, Biado was enthusiastic upon sinking the 9-ball shot to the corner pocket in the clinching 21st rack, even jumping on top of the pool table to the delight of the audience who repeatedly chanted his name.
Biado was visibly emotional as the former golf caddie who later became a world 9-ball champion, a World Games winner and multi-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist celebrated with his wife who was watching from the stands.
“I’m very happy because winning this event is one of my dreams,” Biado said while fighting back tears.
The 37-year-old native of Nueva Ecija who now resides in Muntinlupa City has now added to his collection the US Open, an event considered as one of the most important prizes in pool.
He became just the second Filipino to win the US Open, joining Efren “Bata” Reyes who ruled the 1994 edition. Another Filipino, Alex Pagulayan, represented Canada when he reigned supreme in 2005.
Biado had to do it the hard way after his unbeaten start of three wins at the expense of American Steve Fleming (9-2), Canadian Vincent Beaurivage (9-3) and Finnish standout Mika Immonen (11-3) was broken by Spaniard David Alcaide, 11-5.
Falling to the loser’s side and needing to avoid another defeat in order to reach the round-of-16, Biado showed steely nerves and won over Switzerland’s Daniel Schneider (11-3), fellow Filipino Jeff de Luna (11-6), Scotland’s Jayson Shaw (11-8) to enter the knockout stages.
He avenged his earlier loss to Alcaide and produced a thrilling 11-10 win before defeating another compatriot in Johann Chua in a similar hill-hill score to arrange a semifinal duel with Japan’s Naoyuki Oi.
In the semis, Biado looked dead in the water after squandering a 4-0 lead as Oi won eight consecutive racks. But Biado made a run of his own and took six of the next seven to go on the hill, 10-9.
The two Asian cue artists engaged in a safety battle on rack No. 20, before Oi scratched the cue ball after attempting a long bank shot on the red-colored 3 ball, allowing Biado to clean out the rack and secure a place in the final.
Biado faced Yapp, who foiled an all-Filipino showdown after erasing deficits of 3-0 and 5-2 to produce an 11-6 win over Dennis Orcollo earlier in the day.
After winning the first two racks and going up 3-2, Biado saw the Singaporean whom he faced several times in past SEAG editions respond by winning six consecutive frames for that 8-3 advantage.
Looking like he’s in cruise control, Yapp was about to make it 9-3 but undercutted the 9-ball to the corner pocket which opened the door for Biado to stage a comeback for the ages.
Biado won the next two racks, took the 15th frame with an array of difficult shots before drawing level at 8-all. Yapp’s scratch after converting the blue 2-ball on rack No. 17 gave Biado another break and took the lead back at 9-8 with a runout.
Three break and runs put Biado on the hill at 12-8 and could have closed it out early in the 21st rack when he missed a 1-9 carom to the corner pocket, to the astonishment of the crowd.
But Yapp, perhaps demoralized after seeing his wide lead disappear in stunning fashion, failed to sink the 1-ball to the side which allowed Biado to finish the job.