Zamboanga's Elmer Haya is lone Filipino in semis

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Friday, June 27, 2014


ELMER D. Haya is left all alone to carry out the mission - win the 2014 WPA World 9-Ball Championship title for the Philippines as four other compatriots had bid their hopes goodbye Thursday at the Saad Sports Club in Doha, Qatar.

No matter how daunting, the 37-year-old former Sun.Star Superbalita 9-Ball champion in Cebu is up to the task having stirred the premier world's billiards spectacle with his amazing run to the semi-finals.

Haya, an OFW based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, is just two titles away from the coveted title and the $30,000 top purse having ousted fellow Filipinos Johann Chua (11-7) and Raymund Faraon (11-8) in the quarter-finals and Last 16 round, respectively.

The Zamboanga native Haya also eliminated Japanese Hijikata Hayato, 11-8, in the Last 32.

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World Pool Association (WPA) press officer Ted Lerner, in his story at www.azbilliards.com, said Haya was the "biggest surprise entry into the semi-finals of the World 9-Ball championship in some years".

"Haya paid his own way to Doha, entered the brutally difficult qualifiers and emerged with a hard won spot in the main field," Lerner wrote, also citing how the Filipino toils as a house pro at the Joy Billiard Club in Abu Dhabi as a house pro, away from his dear wife and five kids.

Lerner added, "If the Filipino somehow manages to go all the way on Friday, it will be the biggest upset and surprise win in the history of the World 9-Ball Championship."

Haya was set to test his mettle opposite Neils Feijen of The Netherlands, an 11-7 winner over Philippines' Carlo Biado, at 6:30 p.m., Manila time Friday.

Feijen, as quoted by Lerner, said: "The last three years I never got past the final 64. And now I finished the whole day here. I knew it was going to be a long day. To make it to the final day in any major tournament, then you're part of the elite. We started with 128 monsters and after just a few days we're down to just four guys. So you're damn right I'm proud."

Feijen added that he'll keep things simple and easy against Haya. "Just keep the same thing that you've been doing. keep my composure, patience, and execute. Don't think about the games or the wins, just execute," he said.

While Feijen is ranked No. 12 in the current WPA men's rankings, Haya didn't even make it to the top 396 players in the world.

Feijen emerged champion in the World Pool Masters 2013 and Mosconi Cup 2013 while the last WPA event that Haya competed in was the World 8-Ball Championship in 2012 where he placed at distant 33rd.

Haya is no doubt the underdog in their semis encounter.

The other semis match pitted Chang Yu Lung of Chinese Taipei against Albin Ouschan of Austria. Lung beat Shane Van Boening of the USA, 11-8, while Ouschan also triumphed on the same note against Li He Wen of China in their respective quarter-finals.

Only six Filipinos had so far won WPA world titles including Efren "Bata" Reyes (8-Ball, 9-Ball), Ronnie Alcano (8-Ball, 9-Ball), Dennis Orcollo (8-Ball), Francisco "Django" Bustamante (9-Ball) and Rubilen Amit (women's 10-Ball). Filipino-Canadian Alex Pagulayan captured the WPA 9-Bball title in 2004 in Taipei, Taiwan.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 28, 2014.

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