Pool: Singapore's Aloysius Yapp, Toh Lian Han through to World Cup final after beating USA 9-3
They are teammates, friends, coach and student, and on Sunday (June 19) history makers for Singapore at the World Cup of Pool.
Aloysius Yapp, 26, and Toh Lian Han, 50, continued their fairytale run at the Brentwood Centre in Essex, England as they beat second seeds United States duo, world No. 1 Shane van Boening and 56th-ranked Skyler Woodward, 9-3 in the semi-finals.
The sixth-seeded Singaporeans will face Spain's fourth seeds Francisco Sanchez Ruiz (world No. 5) and David Alcaide (No. 18) in the final later on Sunday. The winners will pocket US$60,000 (S$83,440).
The Republic's best finish at the event was a quarter-final run in 2007, when Toh and Chan Keng Kwang were partners.
World No. 7 Yapp said: "We are honoured to achieve a historic finish for Singapore. It feels great to play alongside my coach Lian Han against some of the best players in the world.
"There were ups and downs and sometimes we got lucky, while other times things went against us. We learnt to try to keep our calm and focus, and we hope to continue doing Singapore proud."
This is the second time he and world No. 68 Toh have eliminated former world champions this week, having beaten 2012 winners Finland 9-6 in the quarter-final.
They played near flawless pool to overcome the Americans, who won the lag to start the match. But a poor push by Woodward allowed Toh to play a good safety to induce a foul as Singapore mopped up the remaining balls to draw first blood.
With this 9-ball event featuring an alternate-shot and winner-break format, it allows for the possibility of a team pulling off an extended run at the table.
Singapore did exactly that as both Yapp and Toh broke well - potting two balls on every break - and ran out the next three frames to establish a 4-0 lead.
Toh then scratched on the 5-ball while trying to play for position for the 6-ball to hand the Americans a way back into the match.
Van Boening and Woodward, the 2008 champions who beat Yapp and Toh in the first round at the 2017 (7-0) and 2018 (7-5) editions, then clawed back two frames but failed to build any meaningful momentum after that.
They either did not have clear shots after their breaks or missed routine pots.
Up 7-2, Yapp missed a straightforward 9-ball that would have sealed the victory but Woodward missed the 8-ball in the next frame to return the initiative which their opponents did not waste.
Cuesports Singapore president Justin Lee said: "Our athletes continue to inspire and allow Singaporeans to dream.
"Whatever the outcome of the final is, we are proud of Aloysius and Lian Han, and our association will continue to help them pursue and achieve their goals and ambitions."