‘I’m getting closer’: Johann Chua holds head high after falling short of World Pool Championship

Delfin Dioquino

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‘I’m getting closer’: Johann Chua holds head high after falling short of World Pool Championship

REPRESENT. Johann Chua in action for the Philippines in the 2024 World Pool Championship.

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Johann Chua says he is 'more than grateful' even after missing out on becoming the fifth Filipino to win the World Pool Championship

MANILA, Philippines – Johann Chua preferred to look at the silver lining even after falling short of one of the most prestigious titles in pool.

Chua held his head high despite crashing out of the semifinals in the World Pool Championship in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, after an 11-6 loss at the hands of Albania’s Eklent Kaci on Saturday, June 8.

Seeking to become the fifth Filipino to win the event after Efren “Bata” Reyes (1999), Ronnie Alcano (2006), Francisco “Django” Bustamante (2010), and Carlo Biado (2017), Chua frittered away a 6-2 lead to finish tied at third.

“Time will pass, no one will remember who came in third place, but I will,” he said. “I’ll always remember this experience, the arena, the games I played in this tournament, and those people who supported me during this process.”

“I’m more than grateful, I was able to place deep and push myself further than what I expected. It’s still surreal,” Chua added.

From 128 players vying for the top purse of $250,000, the biggest ever in the World Nineball Tour, Chua worked his way to the top.

He outlasted Austria’s Max Lechner, 11-10, in the round of 32, edged Syria’s Mohammad Soufi, 11-8, in the last 16, and drubbed China’s Dang Jin Hu, 11-3, in the quarterfinals.

The pride of Bacolod mounted a commanding 6-2 lead against Kaci only to witness the Albanian win nine straight racks as Chua bowed out.

Still, it was a campaign Chua chose to be proud of as he made the top four for the first time after always getting the boot in the round of 32 in 2018, 2019, and 2023.

It was also the highest placing by a Filipino in the World Pool Championship since Roberto Gomez made the last 16 in 2021.

“From a nine-year-old watching this tournament on TV, to the one being watched by many. Yes, it’s not yet time, but this proves that I’m getting closer,” said Chua.

Chua bagged $50,000 for reaching the semifinals, while fellow Filipinos Jeffrey Ignacio and Anton Raga each pocketed $27,000 for making the quarterfinals.

USA’s Fedor Gorst won it all after a nail-biting 15-14 win over Kaci in the finale to capture his second World Pool Championship crown. –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.