FORMER Sun.Star Superbalita champion Elmer Haya is the lone hope for the country as he was the only Filipino left standing in the 2014 WPA World 9-Ball Championship in Doha, Qatar last Thursday evening.
Unfortunately for Haya, he had to muscle out two countrymen on his way to reach the Final 4, which was to be played last night.
The 2004 Sun.Star Superbalita 9-Ball Challenge champion, was the biggest surprise in the tournament as he paid his way to join the qualifying round and had to go up against the top flight players to reach the semifinal round.
Haya, who works as in-house pro of Joy Billiard Club in Abu Dhabi, defeated Hijikata Hikato of Japan, 11-8, in the Round of 32, then defeated compatriot Raymond Faraon, 11-8, in the Round of 16. He also beat fellow qualifier and Filipino upstart Johann “Bubwit” Chua, 11-7, in the quarterfinal round.
The other players who made it to the semifinal round are Niels Feijen of The Netherlands, Chang Yu Lung of Chinese-Taipei and Albin Ouschan of Austria.
Haya, who is looking for the biggest payday of his billiard career, was set to face Feijen, while Chang was to face Ouschan in the semifinal match.
Feijen eliminated 2013 Sun.Star Superbalita 9-Ball Challenge champion Carlo Biado 11-7; Chang eliminated Shane Van Boening of USA, 11-8, and Ouschan stopped Li He Wen of China, 11-8, in the quarterfinal round. Biado eliminated Jason Klatt of Canada, 11-5, in the Round of 32 and Ko Pin Yi of Taipei, 11-7, in the Round of 16.
Cebuano Antonio “Gaga” Gabica, last year’s runner-up, was leading 10-7 before allowing Ouschan to win the final four racks and he lost, 11-10, in the Round of 16. Earlier, Gabica eliminated Roman Hybler of Czech Republic, 11-8, in the Round of 32.
Chua, meanwhile,beat Konstantin Stepanov of Russia, 11-5, and Waleed Majid of Qatar, 11-8, before losing to Haya in the quarterfinal round.
The champion will go home with the top prize of $30,000 while the runner-up will get $15,000. The tournament has a total prize fund of $200,000 and all the top 64 finalists will get cash prizes.