Joshua Filler 11–8 Sanjin Pehlivanovic
Joshua Filler achieved a career dream, beating Sanjin Pehlivanovic 11-8 to win the Men’s Pool Gold medal at The World Games in Birmingham, Alabama.
His win is Germany’s 23rd gold of the Games and extends his nation’s lead at the top of the medal table. The title means there is little Filler has not won in the game; his gold medal will sit alongside his World Championship, US Open and Mosconi Cup MVP trophies.
The 24-year-old was behind for much of the match but remained in touch before moving ahead in the closing stages.
For Pehlivanovic, his silver medal is the first won by a player from Bosnia and Herzegovina in billiards at The World Games and makes him the only athlete from his country to medal in any sport at this year’s Games.
In a high-quality match, Pehlivanovic dealt an immediate blow to his opponent, taking the opening game on Filler’s break. That meant the German was 2-0 down before he returned to the table, but a runout halved his deficit. The 2018 World Champion was soon level and in good spirits, interacting with the crowd as a couple of excellent shots in succession left him with difficult positions.
Pehlivanovic’s safety game was at its very best as he regained the lead at 3-2 and it wasn’t long until he was 6-3 ahead. Filler won a crucial 10Th game after the Bosnian missed a thin cut on the 5th, and Filler quickly won two more to level the match. A brilliant 2 and more good safety play had Pehlivanovic ahead again but the pair were going blow-for-blow and Filler struck back immediately, as he did again to take the match to 8-8.
It had been five games since either player won one on the other’s break when Filler did that to lead for the first time in the match and he doubled his advantage to reach the hill 10-8 ahead and breaking for gold.
With the highest honor in sight, Filler produced a break and run and the perfect time to land his first World Games gold medal, despite leaving himself a testy 9 ball with the cue closer to the rail than he had planned for.
“Honestly, I just can’t really describe it,” said Filler. “I said that I’ve just come here to win the gold and the winning it, in the end, it’s just amazing, it’s a dream come true.
“It’s one of the most special events we have in the pool. I’ve won it now and I’m so delighted. Obviously the final wasn’t really going in my favor all of the time. My break was good, but I could never see a ball, I always had to play push-out safety. His break was working well in the beginning and to win that final, it shows me that I’m probably the best player. I don’t want to be arrogant, I’m just saying it right now and I’m just feeling so over the moon and having a gold medal. It’s just amazing.
“When you have qualified for the World Games, you don’t want to give up because it’s just one event every four years. I always keep saying that, but it’s true and shows how big thr event is. So when you are in the final, you don’t know if you will ever be in the final again.
“I just kept saying to myself, just fight, wait for the opportunity. If you get it, take it. If not, then you probably lose. But he played well, so if he would have won it, he would be a deserved winner as well.
“I’m just super happy to have won and [to be top of the Medal Table] just shows how great Germany is at every sport actually.”
Naturally, Pehlivanovic was disappointed to lose a final he had led for so long, but the 20-year-old knows his career is young and that a silver medal could prove to be a landmark achievement for his country.
“It was a tough match, and at 6-3 I had one shot where I was a bit unlucky and it was a game-changer. He made some incredible shots; he is an incredible player. I am happy with second place but of course not as happy as if I won it.
“I am always proud of a result like this, it means a lot to me and to my country, to be able to put it on the map because we are a small country.
“I am doing well this year and it is a matter of time, I have been knocking on doors for so long, I have been to so many finals, and in the near future I think I am going to be on top.”
Bronze Medal Match
Carlo Biado 8–11 Aloysius Yapp
Carlo Biado 8-11 Joshua Filler
Sanjin Pehlivanovic 11-7 Aloysius Yapp
Aloysius Yapp took the bronze medal with an 8-11 win over Carlo Biado. A banked 9 helped Yapp on his way to a 3-0 lead before a crowd featuring a sizeable contingent from the Birmingham Filipino community had something to cheer as Biado pulled back to 3-2. As to be expected between two high-class players, neither gave much away and the score remained close until Yapp pulled ahead at the death to win 11-8 and collect bronze.
“I feel amazing,” said Yapp of his medal. “I felt I played pretty well at this tournament but I feel really fortunate to come out with the bronze medal. I had some luck also when I really needed it the most and overall it was a really tough match for both of us. Coming out with a medal, it’s really amazing for me and my country.”
Pehlivanovic defeated Yapp in their semi-final. The first six games went to the breaker until Yapp, who had earlier benefited from a golden break, took the seventh. Although the runouts weren’t as regular, the scoreline remained close with neither player opening up a lead of more than one game until the match was nearing its end and Pehlivanovic opened up a 9-7 advantage.
He ran out the subsequent rack to reach the hill three ahead and then took out a 3/9 combo to win 11-7.
Filler reached the final with an 11-8 win over Biado. The first half of the match was a close affair, with Biado pulling from 4-2 down to be 6-5 up after 11. However, Filler then produced a timely six-pack to arrive at the hill 10-6 ahead. Biado halved that gap by winning the next two games, but Filler took his opportunity in the 19thTh to complete the win.
The Olympic Channel is live streaming The World Games and billiards will feature on July 16 and July 17 when the finals take place. A full streaming schedule and links are at https://www.theworldgames.
Follow @wcbsbilliards on social media for full coverage of the billiards program from our team in Birmingham, Alabama.
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