Buoyed by a string of good results and the coaching expertise of former world champions, Cuesports Singapore is gunning for a golden break at next month's SEA Games.
After the Games billiards and snooker draw at the Spex House yesterday, the association's president Christopher Chuah told The New Paper he is targeting four gold medals from the 10 events. Singapore are competing in nine.
Singapore have chalked up just seven cuesports golds at the SEA Games, with their best showing in Vientiane 2009, when they picked up two golds, one silver and two bronzes.
But Chuah is determined to aim high, adding: "We have recruited world pool champions such as Allison Fisher and Ralph Eckert on a short-term basis and we are going to have former world billiards champion Manoj Kothari help us for the SEA Games.
"We hope they can help give our players the edge by training them in matchplay and refining their technique.
"Preparation has been intense and our players have been training every day.
"Our usual suspects for gold are Peter Gilchrist and Aloysius Yapp, who have done well recently, but we have other capable players who can surprise too."
Three-time world champion Gilchrist is the defending men's English billiards singles champion, while Yapp is the reigning World Junior Pool champion.
Gilchrist has won three consecutive SEA Games since 2009 and the new 500-point event should also suit the consummate break-builder, who should not have much difficulty at least until the semi-finals.
Yapp faces a tough route to the men's nine-ball singles finals as he could meet former world champion, Filipino Dennis Orcollo, in the quarter-finals.
BEAT THE BEST
Nevertheless, national snooker coach Stefan Mazrocis said: "I'm happy with the draw. Regardless, we still have to beat the strongest opponents if we want to win the gold.
"I would love for us to meet the four-gold target and we are definitely capable of doing that. We are confident.
"On the snooker side, Marvin Lim, Tommy Ang and KK (Chan Keng Kwang) have been playing well. They are experienced and they all have it.
"We have been really busy preparing, and we will calm down over the next few weeks leading up to the SEA Games.
"I'm an ex-pro, so I've been putting them through the professional regimen where we keep practising keep shots and what will crop up during matches. We practise different scenarios instead of just playing matches."
The nine-ball singles is the only women's event, with local hopes resting on Charlene Chai and Jessica Tan.
They will be up against another Philippine world champion, defending SEA Games champion Rubilen Amit, who had beaten Chai in the 2009 final.
National women's pool coach Allison Fisher said: "It's tricky because they are two very different personalities. It would be the first time Jessica is representing her country at such a big meet and I'm hopeful she will do well.
"Charlene, on the other hand, is very experienced after competing many times internationally. It's a decent draw where they can get their feet wet in the earlier rounds and not meet the strongest opponents immediately.
"It's not really an expectation but I hope we can deliver two medals.
"We are up against world champions but it's a mental game which we can win. We still have to refine our skills and technique, and improve on shot selection, table awareness and management.
"And of course, seeing that it is only a race-to-seven format, we also need some luck.
"We have a month to go and we will work on different areas and get them mentally ready for the SEA Games.
"I hope Singaporeans will get behind them."
This article was first published on May 3, 2015.
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