Pinay world pool champ to banner East in Queen’s Cup

Gerry Plaza on Mar 30, 2015 03:57 PM
Pinay world pool champ to banner East in Queen’s Cup
Rubilen “Bingkay” Amit (From Instagram)

Don’t be fooled by her diminutive frame. Her accomplishments would even put hulking giants to shame.

For mainstream local sports aficionados, her name may not ring a bell. Yet, for the world’s top female cue masters, she is definitely the most feared.

Despite being heralded as the first and only Pinay world pool champion, Rubilen "Bingkay" Amit does not make any grand entrance to those sprawling billiard halls; she only exhibits what a truly inspiring Pinoy does: being the best that she could be in all ways possible.

Pool magic

Such is evident in her dazzling wizardry on the pool table, wherein this decorated Filipina sports figure shines.

We can all lay witness to her pool magic in the upcoming AM8.com Queen’s Cup at The Plaza in Newport Mall on April 16 to 18, as the captain of the East team, which is composed of the best women pool players in Asia, including South Korea’s Eunji Park, Taiwan’s Jennifer Chen, and China’s Siming Chen.

Amit is the current world champion in women’s 10-ball billiards, and she accomplished that twice—first in 2009, when she won against two-time world champion Liu Shin-Mei, 10-4, to become the Philippines’ first World Pool champion in the World 10-ball championships held in SM North EDSA, and the latest in 2013 against the top-ranked Kelly Fisher, 10-7, in the World championship at the Resorts World Manila in Pasay City.

With her stature, Amit was the hands-down choice to lead Team East in last year’s inaugural AM8.com Queen’s Cup, which is patterned after the Ryder Cup of golf and the Davis Cup of tennis. Amit led the team to victory over the West, which had American and European top players and hall-of-famers in its lineup. 

Journey

What started her journey as the queen of pocket billiards?

Frequent visits to those billiard halls in her native Mandaue, Cebu with her father began her passion for the sport. And when she entered the University of Santo Tomas for her accountancy studies, she first exhibited her pool magic in internal college tournaments.

"I was always with my dad, and we [also] had the support of my mom. So kumbaga, 'Okay, I’ll support you, as long as you do good in school'," she recalled.

Getting much inspiration from greats Efren "Bata" Reyes and Francisco "Django" Bustamante, Bing mastered her own style and skill on the sidelines while preparing for that big break.  As a student, she joined several tournaments and made her mark with her gutsy yet methodical brand of billiards.

"I prepare at least six weeks before a tournament," Bing said. "I'd do general preparation, where I work on my weaknesses. And then I do pre-tournament training, play according to the rules of the tournament I'm preparing for." These preparatory sessions would go from six to eight hours a day, with Bing playing against other people and on her own.

Obstacles

During these moments, Amit recalls having to face several obstacles along the way—sometimes personal trials that harbor negativity and loss of confidence, nearly bringing her to the brink of discontinuing her training. But her unwavering love for the sport and her overwhelming desire to win were always paramount.

And she overcame the odds and entered the national team in 2005 to represent the country in the Manila SEA Games that year.  In that biennial tourney, she was not only prominent, she dominated. Amit cruised to two Gold Medals for the Women’s 8-ball and 9-ball competitions.

This victory became her springboard to more prestigious international events. Her first biggest winning moment came in the Women’s 10-ball Championship in the summer of 2009, despite admitting that 10-ball was "not her cup of tea."

First Pinay world pool champ

Amit immediately became the most talked about newcomer in the event as she first waylaid the world’s top player at the time, Jeannette "Black Widow" Lee in the quarterfinals then defeated Akimi Kajitani of Japan. She eventually demolished the two-time women’s world 9-ball champ Shin Mei Liu, 10-4, in the finals to become the first Filipina world pool champion.

With this incredible victory, the next staging of the SEA Games in Vientiane, Laos a few months after the world 10-ball championships would further stamp her dominance in the sport as she again bagged the Women’s 8-ball and 9-ball Golds.

Yet, her run went to a full stop in 2011 after losing her World Poll crown to British sensation Kelly Fisher, while ending up with a 9-ball silver in the Palembang SEA Games in Indonesia.

But for Amit, these were mere momentary setbacks.  Adjustments were needed and Bingkay carefully revisited her game plan going into the next staging of the world championships at the Resorts World Manila.

However, an illness almost derailed her chance at redemption. Having been ill three weeks ahead of the tournament, doctors had recommended that she dropped out. But Amit had other things in mind.

After claiming to have gotten reenergized with nutritional supplements from USANA Health Sciences, which she endorses, she amazingly got back into form and restarted her training.

Resurgence

Indeed, her resurgence was emphatic. She eventually faced her tormentor Fischer in the finals. And, it was sweet revenge. After a slow start, Amit came back from a vicious 4-6 deficit to wear down Fischer, who bungled a clear shot on the eight-ball on the 17th rack to give the Filipinas the victory.

After pocketing her second World 10-ball title, Amit again made another historic win by copping the 10-Ball Gold in the 2013 Naypyidaw SEA Games in Myanmar.

And as she marches on to defend her world title later this year, she is tasked to banner the East team in the second staging of the AM8.com Queen’s Cup. She will reunite with Eunji Park, Jennifer Chen, and Siming Chen to battle the West team composed of USA’s Jennifer Barretta and the "Texas Tornado" Vivian Villareal, Sweden’s Ewa Laurance, and Northern Ireland’s Karen Corr.

It will follow a 10-ball format and will conclude once a team reaches 10 match wins. Style of play will include singles, doubles, triples, and 4-on-4. Amit, the East team skipper, will strategize on team partnerships and chemistry of match-ups. 

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