MANILA, Philippines—No one was happier for Chezka Centeno on Saturday afternoon than the woman she defeated for the gold medal in the 10-ball singles in the Southeast Asian Games.
Centeno overcame the player she calls "Ate" in the finals, tallying a 7-3 triumph over veteran cue artist Rubilen Amit for the 10-ball crown. It marked the third time that Centeno had beaten Amit in the gold medal match in the SEA Games; she also pulled off the feat in 2015 and 2017, albeit in 9-ball.
Afterward, the 20-year-old downplayed her triumph.
"Swerte lang ako dahil wala siyang break," Centeno said of Amit, a player 18 years her senior.
Amit, however, had no such reservations about the match. Asked what happened, she said simply: "Si Chezka ang nangyari."
"Ang galing (niya)," she said. "Mapapanood naman natin, talagang break and run siya, tapos ako wala akong break."
Despite losing to Centeno three times now in a gold medal match in the SEA Games, Amit could not be happier for her younger teammate. She has served as a mentor and a friend to Centeno for years now, and to see the youngster experience such success gives Amit great pride.
It also gives Amit plenty of hope for the future of women's billiards in the Philippines. She is well aware that she won't be playing forever, but knowing that Centeno is ready to take up the mantle makes it easier for Amit.
"I'm very thankful din na, at my age — I'm 38 now — and I'm sure that aside from she's the present, she is also the future," Amit said of Centeno.
"Ang basis ko kasi, mabait na bata. Ang dami na niyang na-achieve, pero mapapansin mo mahiyain pa rin and very humble pa rin.
"That's one thing na I'm very grateful for, na kung meron man na susunod and tatagal talaga, siya 'yun."
Centeno, now a three-time gold medalist in the SEA Games, has more chances to add to her collection. She plays Amit in the final of women's 9-ball Sunday, and they will also try to win the gold in women's 9-ball doubles.
Amit made it clear that she and Centeno have not discussed if they are going to split the gold in 10-ball and 9-ball.
"Nag-usap kami, actually, sabi ko nga sa kanya, may nag-mention nga na what if isa 10-ball, 'yung isa 9-ball," she said. "Sabi ko ano, it's our respect for the game."
"Another is kasi once you retire, you have an incentive based on your achievements. So I don't want to take it away from her. If she could win three golds, then she wins three golds," she added.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.