HANOI - Aloysius Yapp's search for an elusive singles SEA Games gold medal will continue, after the Singaporean world No. 1 lost 9-7 to familiar foe Carlo Biado of the Philippines in the semi-finals of the 9-ball pool event at the Ha Dong Gymnasium on Tuesday (May 17).
The loss meant Yapp was forced to settle for his second consecutive bronze medal in the 9-ball event at the biennial Games. In the Philippines in 2019, he had also won bronze in the 10-ball event.
The solitary gold medal the 26-year-old owns came at the 2017 Games in the 9-ball doubles event, where he partnered Toh Lian Han.
The sting of Tuesday's defeat for Yapp was made worse given the fact world No. 29 Biado, the 2017 World 9-ball champion, had also beaten him in the final of the prestigious US Open in September 2021.
Yapp had stunned the world's top two players in Atlantic City then but fell 13-8 to the Filipino at the final hurdle.
On Tuesday in the Vietnamese capital, he trailed 2-0 but then fought back in a tightly-contested duel, although Biado enjoyed some fortuitous breaks.
In the fifth game, he mishit the five ball but still pocketed it and sheepishly acknowledged his luck, drawing laughter from the 200-strong crowd. Yapp, planted in his chair, did not see the humour.
And in the deciding game, Biado almost scratched the cueball just before he pocketed the final ball, only for it to stop millimetres from the jaw of the pocket.
All Yapp could do was look up to the heavens and wonder why he did not get the rub he needed.
Reflecting on these moments, the Singaporean later said: "The luck didn't really favour me today.
"I did what I could with the chances I had. I just needed a little bit of luck and I felt I could get through to the final."
When asked if he felt he had a target on his back as world No. 1, he said: "Not really. There are a lot of world champions in the field.
"Carlo just beat me in the US Open (final) last year and he's a former world champion too. Everyone is a top player over here and it's a very tough tournament.
"I feel like everyone is more or less the same (level). I just have to play my game and see how it goes."
He admitted that he felt more pressure while representing Singapore at a multi-sport affair like the SEA Games, compared to when he is competing in professional tournaments in the United States where he plays for himself, but added he enjoyed the feeling.
And even though he feels that Singaporeans may not fully appreciate how tough the field at a regional competition like the SEA Games is, Yapp added: "Sometimes but it's just part of our game. There's a lot of talk. I just try to focus on myself and see how well I can do."
In the other 9-ball semi-final played on Tuesday, Yapp's teammate, coach and mentor Toh lost 9-3 to Johann Chua, who ensured a one-two for the Philippines in the event.
Yapp may yet claim that elusive singles title in Hanoi, as he will also be taking part in the 10-ball event, which will begin on Wednesday with the final scheduled for Saturday.