Amit proud of Centeno, even though loss pained her
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – As the crowd continued to applaud and the referee pointed his remote to the flat screen to award the score, Rubilen Amit repositioned the cue ball and the 7-ball on the table, exactly where they were less than 5 minutes earlier.
She then successfully recreated the shot that cost her the gold. It didn't count of course, but she just needed to do it.
"Ang sakit eh," she said. (It hurts.)
The 35-year-old settled for her second straight silver medal after she was stunned by the 18-year-old Chezka Centeno, 7-6, in women's 9-ball pool singles at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games here on Sunday, August 27.
"Hindi ko in-expect na ako ulit magcha-champion. Sobrang galing ni ate," Centeno said after her come-from-behind victory, which left her mother in tears at the stands.
(I didn't expect to become champion again. Rubilen is very good.)
The veteran Amit also lost to Centeno two years ago in Singapore, in a similar 1-2 finish for the Philippines. But this one was particularly painful for the way that it happened. It is a loss that is as heartbreaking as they come.
Amit felt good early on and dominated for a 3-0 start that became 5-2, before Centeno willed herself back into the match and led 6-5. Amit secured the next inning to tie it at 6-all and in the final inning was well on her way to the gold.
But she committed a costly scratch, albeit unexpectedly, on the 7-ball, giving Centeno the ball in hand and a golden opportunity to close out the match for the gold.
Amit, a two-time SEA Games gold medalist, let out a yell while the erstwhile silent crowd wailed in shock just as the cue ball slipped into the side pocket.
"When I hit it I felt that I hit it well. Tapos I saw it going to the side pocket, napasigaw ako (Then I saw it going to the side pocket, I screamed)," she said of the moment, adding she was also distracted by whistling in the crowd during the crucial stretch. Various noises from the crowd also caught her attention earlier in the match.
"Kahit ulitin ko 'yun, kahit sadyain ko pumasok ng side, hindi ko magagawa 'yun. Very unlikely lang and for me, ang sakit eh." (Even if I do that again, even if I intentionally pocket it, I wouldn't be able to do it. It was very unlikely for me, it's painful.)
This defeat hurts for Amit but she knows it doesn't take away from what Centeno accomplished once more against her idol.
"Chezka is deserving because she came back from being down 5-2, she played well, she played steady. Pero nandoon talaga, hindi ko made-deny na I felt really disappointed with how it turned out kasi sa akin na eh (But that's how it is, I can't deny that I felt really disappointed with how it turned out because I was already about to win)."
Amit and Centeno have been roommates for these Games. Their conversations included plans of securing a Philippines versus Philippines final, which they did. There was no giving of advice or talk of strategy. Mostly they talked about another battle happening across the globe at the same time as their match: Conor McGregor versus Floyd Mayweather Jr.
"I'm very proud of her as a player and as a person," Amit said of Centeno.
"I always say this every time I get interviewed, she's a good kid, she's a good player, she deserves the gold. Masakit lang kasi talaga. Hindi ko talaga matapos-tapos 'yan eh (It just hurts. I can't finish it)."
Centeno may be young, but Amit still learns from her and continues to be impressed by her – even if the younger pool player has tormented the veteran in back-to-back SEA Games.
"Of course. I learn from her lalo 'pag sa training, even her demeanor when she plays. Magaling 'yung bata. Steady tsaka matapang (I learn from her especially in training, even her demeanor when she plays. The kid is good. Steady and brave)."
The turnaround for this will be quick for Amit – as with many other Filipino athletes – as she begins preparing for the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games from September 15 to 24 in Turkmenistan.
She's handled defeats before, after all.
"'Di bale pag-uwi ko ng Pilipinas, 'yung silver na 'yun papakulayan ko ng gold 'yun," she joked. (When I go back home to the Philippines, I'll have the silver medal repainted gold.) – Rappler.com