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Fisher sends Centeno packing

Filipina Chezka Centeno’s run in the World Women’s 9-Ball Championship came to an end as she bowed to a more experienced, more composed Allison Fisher of Great Britain, 7-9, in their quarterfinals showdown Saturday night (Sunday in Manila) at the Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The Pinay cue artist went off to a slow start, trailing 0-4, which she tried to repeatedly overcome, but the 54-year-old, world’s No. 5 player and owner of 60 titles sanctioned by the World-Pool Billiard Association was just too calm, too collected to overcome.

Centeno didn’t go down without putting up a fight as she was able to pick up her first back-to-back rack victories in the 14th and 15th racks to shove within striking distance, 8-7.

But the four-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist, Centeno, just couldn’t finish the job as her more poised rival was able to wrap up the victory.

Centeno made it all the way to the quarterfinal round after winning convincingly over Margaret Fefilova of Belarus, 9-3.

The first time these two players met, it was Fefilova who was able to take control of the match, leading 5-1, before Centeno made a late charge and pulled off a victory in a hill-hill encounter, 7-6.

This time, there’s no denying Centeno.

After seeing her compatriot and pool idol, Rubilen Amit crashing out with a 3-7 loss to Seoa Seo of South Korea, 7-3, Centeno left no doubt in running away with a decisive victory over Fefilova.

Both players, though, suffered shaky starts as they went on to miss easy shots.

Centeno had three dry breaks and had to take advantage of her rival’s missed opportunity to steal a match.

In the first rack, Centeno missed the No. 2 at the side pocket, then bungled a shot at the No. 7 in the corner.

But Fefilova committed the biggest blunder after missing the last ball, yet it left Centeno in a difficult situation to take a tough banked shot.

Centeno, however, found the right angle to down the No. 9 at the left side pocket to take the early upper hand.

In the second rack, the Zamboangueña won the battle of safety exchanges and took advantage of her rival’s scratched play while aiming at the No. 3 ball.

Centeno cashed in on the opportunity and cleaned up the table for a 2-0 lead.

After Fefilova took the third rack, Centeno stole the fourth rack when Fefilova missed the No. 2 in the corner and the Pinay cue artist wiped out the remaining balls for a 3-1 lead.

Centeno had trouble-free breaks in the next three racks and was at her best in the seventh rack when she pocketed three balls coming off a break.

She capped her good game with a spectacular banked shot at the No. 3 right at the side pocket for a commanding 6-1 lead.

In the eighth, Centeno appeared to be on a roll, but she bungled an easy shot at the No. 5 and left a window of opportunity for Fefilova to come back and take the match.

Centeno had a chance to take the ninth rack when she was able to sink seven of eight balls but misjudged on taking the last ball by opting to take it to the side pocket instead of a push out at the corner — and Fefilova took advantage for her first back-to-back rack wins.

Centeno won the safety exchanges and sank one ball after another to open the 10th rack. The delighted 23-year-old went straight to her rival to shake her hand mistakenly, thinking that it was just a race-to-seven event.

Both players acknowledged the mistake and play went on, but it didn’t take long for Centeno to finally wrap things up by winning the next two racks and advancing into the quarterfinal round.

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