Johann Chua-James Aranas tandem gives PH 4th WCOP title

James Aranas and Johann Chua kiss the World Cup of Pool championship trophy. Matchroom Pool
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—The duo of Johann Chua and James Aranas put a happily ever after ending to arguably the biggest underdog story ever in the World Cup of Pool after beating the German pair of Joshua Filler and Moritz Neuhausen, 11-7, in the final early Monday (Philippine Time) at the Pazo de Feiras e Congresos de Lugo in Spain.

A blistering start set the tone for the Chua-Aranas duo's masterclass against the Filler-Neuhausen tag team, although the Germans gave the Filipinos some scare near the end.

Chua and Aranas quickly drew near to the cusp of winning it all after going up, 9-2, even as Filler and Neuhausen were relegated to spectators for most of the early goings.

However, Team Germany came alive after winning the next five racks to cut the lead down to two, 9-7, with the crowd beginning to sense a huge comeback.

But on Rack 17, Chua converted on a 2-8 combination which eventually swung the momentum back to them as the Philippine duo finally moved to within match point.

In Rack 18, the German pair tried something tricky when they, with only a little chance at hitting the 2-ball after Chua's safety shot and some time pressure, opted to go for an intentional foul by hitting the 7-ball directly to place it beside the 3-ball in hopes of a botch from him after Aranas' shot at the 2.

However, Chua rattled the 3-ball in and put the 7-ball in a better spot to eventually clean up the rack and lift the championship trophy.

With Chua and Aranas' win, the Philippines broke a tie with China for the winningest country in the WCOP with its fourth title, the first since Dennis Orcullo and Lee Van Corteza connived for the 2013 championship.

Chua and Aranas also won US$60,000 (around PHP3.3 million) for ruling the event, while Filler and Neuhausen settled for the US$30,000 (around PHP1.65 million) runner-up prize.

Chua and Aranas entered the final after beating the Austrian pair of Albin Ouschan and Mario He, 9-8, in the semis.

Austria failed to complete a comeback from 4-8 down as He scratched right at the break of the final rack, paving the way for Chua and Aranas to steal the rack and the semifinal win.

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