By Jeanne Michael Penaranda
ATLANTIC CITY/MANILA – The Philippines has a new sports hero.
He is La Union native Carlo Biado who just won the highly coveted US Open Pool Championship and the $50,000 (P2.5 million) prize with the trophy, breaking a 27-year drought by Filipinos for the title.
Biado’s victory came just a week after Filipina-Canadian-Ecuadorian Leylah Fernandez took the US open tennis tournament in New York by storm, finishing runner up, and three months since Filipino-Japanese Yuka Saso from Bulacan became the first Filipino player to win the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship held in San Francisco, California.
Biado defeated Singapore’s Aloysius Yapp, 13-8, in a come from behind finals at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Sunday, September 19 (Philippine time), a month before his 38th birthday.
A total of 256 world-class players, about 10 of them Filipinos, from all over the world competed in the tournament with Biado and Yapp reaching the finals.
“We congratulate Carlo Biado for bringing pride and honor to the country by winning the 2021 US Open Pool Championship in Atlantic City,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press statement.
Roque recalled how President Rodrigo Duterte conferred the presidential citation to Biado for winning a gold medal in the 29th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in 2017.
“Carlo is indeed a world-class billiards champion. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte personally conferred Carlo a presidential citation for winning a gold medal in the 29th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in 2017. Mabuhay ka, Carlo (Long live, Carlo),” he added.
“He (Biado) put the world on notice that the Philippines is still a force in the sport,” fellow Filipino billiard players said after the tourney. “He made us all very proud,” they added.
With the win, Biado said he has fulfilled his life-long dream. “Nanalo ako sa World Games, gold medal (Southeast Asian Games), and World Pool Championship, pero ito talaga ‘yung gusto kong mapanalunan. Prestigious event ito at napakaraming player – 256 – and puro world-class,” said Biado after his victory.
“Ito ang pangarap ko na makuha ito, ito ang pinakamalaki. Ito ‘yung mga pinapangarap ng mga professional. Iba ang tingin sa iyo ‘pag nakuha mo ito kaya masayang masaya ako na nanalo tayo,” Biado added.
Biado’s victory did not come easy as he had to come from behind against his Singaporean foe Aloysius Yapp.
Yapp took a commanding 8-3 lead as he pounced on the early mistakes of the Filipino.
But once given the opening, Biado took the table and made an epic run stringing 10 straight racks to seal the win, 13-8.
It was Biado‘s first ever U.S. Open win and he becomes only one of the very few non-Americans to have won the US open and the world 9 Ball Championship.
In the post match interview, Biado was in tears as he admitted that winning the U.S. Open has always been a childhood dream.
He thanked his family and Filipino fans in attendance in Atlantic City for their support.
Biado, now a resident of Muntinlupa City, has now added US Open to his collection.
The 37-year-old former golf caddie now holds the distinction of being only the second Filipino to win the US Open, joining Efren “Bata” Reyes, dubbed the Magician, who ruled the 1994 edition.
Another Filipino, Alex Pagulayan, represented Canada when he won the prestigious World Pool Championship title in 2004.
After training in the US for four months, Biado will return to the Philippines next Tuesday, September 28, and plans to leave again to train for a packed 2022 schedule in January.
Biado is slated to compete in the 2022 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Thailand, Vietnam SEA Games, and World Games in Alabama.