Ahmad Taufiq through to nine-ball singles quarters

Fadhil Yunus

Brunei Darussalam athlete Ahmad Taufiq bin Murni reignited the country’s hope of securing a historic medal in billiard sports at the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games after a 9-7 victory over Laos’ Obmalay Anongsak earned him a place in the quarter-finals of the men’s nine-ball singles at the Manila Hotel Tent yesterday.

Ahmad Taufiq’s second triumph over a Laotian opponent in as many days represents his third victory in this year’s meet, following successes in the men’s nine-ball doubles with teammate Muhammad Azim bin Abu Bakar and the last-18 match in the men’s 10-ball singles.

The national cueist, who has made numerous appearances in the biennial meet, is a match away of ending his SEA Games medal hoodoo.

The last-eight stage marks the second time that Ahmad Taufiq will be in contention of a medal after the close shave in the men’s 10-ball doubles against Filipino giants Warren Kiamco and Jeffrey Ignacio.

Both opponents traded frames at 5-5 before Ahmad Taufiq enjoyed a two-frame comfort. Oblamay pulled back a frame but the Bruneian reached the hill to put him on the brink of a precious win.

The Laotian saved another frame but Ahmad Taufiq was not to be denied as he clinched the match which confirmed him a place among the top eight players in nine-ball.

The billiard sport team launched their campaign in the men’s nine-ball doubles with a 9-7 win over Indonesia’s Sahroni and Andri, sparking interest of the possibility of a historic moment in billiard sport. A spot in the last-eight was their reward, edging them a step closer to bronze.

The country’s interest in the sport followed in the individual events with Ahmad Taufiq recovering from four frames down to win the tie 9-6 against Laos’ Vongsay Hongsavady in the last 18 of the men’s 10-ball singles.

With continuity rooted in Ahmad Taufiq’s thoughts, his game slowly faded away in the last-16 clash of the 10-ball singles against Vietnam’s Do The Kien and eventually crashed out in a 9-2 loss, with the margin of defeat a rarity given Taufiq’s competitive nature.

Brunei’s Muhammad Azim was handed a tough draw in the 10-ball singles against Dennis Orcollo of the Philippines, where he succumbed to a 9-4 defeat. The debutant was also ousted out of the nine-ball singles against nine-ball doubles gold medallist Myanmar’s Phone Myint Kyaw.

Taufiq, the country’s most profiled cueist, will hope to avenge his defeat against his 10-ball singles nemesis Do The Kien in the nine-ball singles quarter-finals in the morning session today.

The winner will face either Warren Kiamco or Singapore’s Toh Lian Han in the semi-finals.