The possibility of an all Filipino final in the U.S. Open Pool Championship 2021 is still alive as Dennis Orcollo and Carlo Biado both qualified for the semifinals on different sides of the bracket.
Orcollo, who remains undefeated in the tournament, will battle Aloysius Yapp of Singapore while Biado will take on Naoyuki Oi of Japan. Two Filipinos last met in the final of this prestigious event way back in 2005, when Alex Pagulayan defeated Jose "Amang" Parica.
On the penultimate day of competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, four Filipino cue artists saw action in the Last 16. Orcollo was the first to book a quarterfinal spot with an 11-6 win against Mario He of Hungary. Johann Gonzales Chua then eliminated John Morra of Canada 11-8.
The two Filipinos from the losers' bracket pulled off slim wins against their previously undefeated foes, as Biado upset David Alcaide Bermudez of Spain 11-10 while Rodrigo Geronimo climbed back from a 10-7 deficit to emerge victorious against Danis Grabe of Estonia 11-10.
In the quarterfinals, Geronimo committed uncharacteristic errors including a missed bank shot on a three-ball that allowed Yapp to go on the hill. The Singaporean, who has been on a tear including his win over Shane Van Boening of the United States, won 11-6.
Orcollo was the next to see action among the Filipinos in the quarterfinals, and he continued his fine form with an 11-7 win against Max Lechner of Austria.
Biado completed his climb from the losers' bracket into the last four when he defeated Chua 11-10. Biado led 10-6 but Chua climbed back into the match and forced another hill-hill battle.
"At 10-7, I made the two-ball but my preparation for the three-ball fell short so he was able to get going," Biado told ESPN5.
"At 10-9, I had an open shot but it was a long shot and I could not bridge properly so I missed. When we were at hill-hill, I just told myself to relax and forget about the miss. Fortunately for me, he had a dry break so I got the win."
It was the second time that Biado had defeated a fellow Filipino, as he also eliminated Jeffrey De Luna from contention last Thursday.
"We just shook hands after the match," Biado said about compatriot Chua.
"Away from the pool table, we're all friends but once the match starts it's all business. I got so nervous with my two hill-hill matches because it only takes one miss to lose. But even if I was pressured, I was able to handle it so I thank God for giving me strength and luck. I'm thankful to reach the semifinals."
The semifinals of the U.S. Open Pool Championship start at 10 p.m. today (Philippines time), with Orcollo facing Yapp before Biado takes on Oi.
"I'm happy I'll get a chance to go up against Oi again because the last time we matched up he defeated me at the World 10-Ball in the Last 16," Biado said.
"It was also hill-hill but I had a dry break.
"Pool players from the rest of Asia have been improving. They're determined and pool is also their passion so it's not a surprise that they're also playing well like us Filipinos, but I'm hoping that Dennis and I both win so it will be all-Filipino in the final."