Like Hidilyn Diaz's silver medal performance five years ago in the Rio Olympics, Filipinos woke up Sunday morning to news of yet another overseas conquest by their countryman when 37-year-old La Union native Carlo Biado bested a field of 256 entries from across the planet to emerge victorious in the 2021 US Open 9-Ball Pool Championship, breaking a 27-year title drought for the Philippines in this prestigious tournament.
Biado, a member of the Philippine national billiards team, essayed a 13-8 come-from-behind triumph against Singaporean ace Aloysius Yapp and was commended by some of the icons in Philippine billiards.
"I'm very fortunate to have witnessed his historic win," said Johann "Bad Koi" Chua in an exclusive interview with ESPN5. Chua was among the Filipino contingent who trooped to Atlantic City, New Jersey for the event. "He (Biado) really relied on his abilities and (he showed a lot of) heart. That's what got him the trophy."
Chua made it all the way to the quarterfinal stage along with Biado, "Robocop" Dennis Orcollo and unheralded Rodrigo "Edgie" Geronimo.
It was Chua, who is also part of the national team, whom Biado waylaid to reach the semifinals where he eventually toppled Naoyuki Oi of Japan en route to the Race-to-13 finale against Yapp.
"Hopefully people (back home) appreciate how difficult this conquest was. This is huge," he exclaimed.
Reigning Derby City Classic 9-Ball king Lee Van Corteza also weighed in on the historic feat last achieved by the legendary Efren "The Magician" Reyes in 1994.
"Finally! The US Open crown is back with us," the 43-year-old Davaoeño, also exclusively to ESPN5. "He was consistent and he was never unfazed even if his opponent had the advantage. He was extremely focused and, of course, he also had some stroke of luck because in his last two matches he had to come from behind."
Corteza, who had also made it to the final in 2013 only to lose to eventual titlist Shane Van Boening, also spoke about the enormity of Biado's achievement.
"He (Biado) put the world on notice that the Philippines is still a force in the sport," he said. "He made us all very proud."
This was the same sentiment coming from Antonio "Nikoy" Lining, who stayed up to watch the final duel unfold.
"(Biado) is proof that billiards is very much alive in the Philippines and the Filipinos who continually make their mark internationally," the former Asian Games gold medalist told ESPN5. "We should all celebrate what he and the rest of those who competed there went through for the honor of our country."
Biado holds the distinction of being only the third Filipino to who have won both the US Open and the World Championship, joining Reyes and Alex Pagulayan (who has been representing Canada).
"Biado can take his place among the Philippines' greatest pool players," international billiards sportscaster Bob Guerrero stated.
With international travel increasing, expect many Pinoy pool campaigners to regain a foothold on the sport it once had a stranglehold on. However, the emergence of Oi and Yapp also serves notice to the rest of the world that the rest of Asia is also in the midst of a billiards uprising.