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Chua outclasses foe to enter semis in World Pool Championships

MANILA, Philippines -- Lurking behind the shadow of a bigger Filipino pool star in Carlo Biado for so long, Johann Chua will have a chance to be the main man himself.

Showing sheer tenacity and superb shot making, Chua smashed Chinese Dang Jung Hu, 11-3, early Saturday to gatecrash into the semifinals of the 2024 World Pool Championships in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where he also remained the last Filipino standing.

Chua was nothing short of spectacular in his clinical decimation of Dang, relying mostly on his power breaks to move within two steps away from claiming his biggest triumph to date.

He had actually won the World Cup of Pool with childhood buddy James Aranas in Lugo, Spain last year and had a Southeast Asian Games gold medal in Hanoi, Vietnam three years ago on his trophy case.

But nothing could beat this one, as a victory would catapult him straight to an elite group of former champions that included Filipino greats Efren “Bata” Reyes, Alex Pagulayan, Ronnie Alcano, Francisco “Django” Bustamante and Biado, whom Chua had played second fiddle in the past.

Of course, there’s also the $250,000 bonus, or a cool P14.7 million, should he end up winning it all.

“I was breaking well, I hope to continue this tomorrow,” said Chua, who also dedicated his quarterfinal win to his one-year-old son Justin.

But first, Chua would have to hurdle Turkey’s Eklent Kaci, who eliminated one of the three Filipinos who valiantly made it through the quarters while the rest of the Philippine contingent, including Biado, fell like dominoes.

The other one was fast-rising Anton Raga, who shocked 2018 winner Joshua Filler of Germany, 11-7, in the round-of-16 but ran into 2019 champion Fedor Gorst of the United States in the semis and stumbled to a stinging 11-4 defeat.

Gorst will tackle Poland’s Wojciech Szewczyk, who downed compatriot Wiktor Zielinski, 11-5, in the other semis showdown.