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Rubilen Amit broke Philippine billiards' gender barrier in the 2010s

Rubilen Amit finishes the decade ranked third in the world among female pool players. Marlon Bernabe/ESPN5

As the decade draws to a close, the ESPN5.com editorial staff look back at the sporting figures and moments that stood out and helped define Philippine sports in the 2010s. Check back regularly until December 31 for the latest features in our ESPN5.com Best of the Decade series.

We honor the athletes who excelled in the 2010s, those who made their mark, raised the bar, and collected championship trophies along the way. Billiards has always been a popular sport among Filipinos, and cue sports heroes - Efren Reyes, Django Bustamante, Dennis Orcollo to name a few - were never in short supply. But it wasn't until Rubilen Amit burst upon the scene that a female player became popular among Filipino fans. Armed with world-class skills and an engaging personality, Amit elevated herself to the pantheon of Pinoy billiards greats during the 2010s, breaking the gender barrier in the process.

When cue sports was played in the 2005 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Manila, then 24-year-old Rubilen Amit quickly established herself as the undisputed queen of the felt tables as she dispatched all foes en route to claiming the first ever SEA Games gold medals for the women's 8-ball and 9-ball disciplines. In 2019, now a veteran 38-year-old, the diminutive, articulate cueist from Mandaue, Cebu added more medals in her illustrious career in the biennial meet with her seventh gold medal at the expense of her heir apparent Chezka Centeno in women's 9 ball singles, capping what has been one of the most dominant runs in the decade.

Rubilen Amit started out as a fan of the sport during the years when the Philippines regularly hosted international tournaments where the likes of Ralf Souquet, Mika Immonen and Earl Strickland made frequent trips to the country for the competitions.

Accompanied by her father, Amit would fly from Cebu and witness the masters first hand. She would continue watching from the sidelines as an accountancy student at the University of Santo Tomas (UST), absorbing all the tactics and techniques of not only the international campaigners but her local male compatriots such as former world titlists Efren "Bata" Reyes, Francisco "Django" Bustamante and Ronnie Alcano.

Amit's surge in the 2010s began with a mixed doubles world title in 2011, where she teamed up with legend Efren Reyes. Two years later, she really made her mark, taking home her second Women's World 10-ball Championship as well as a bronze in the same event at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG). She also led Team Asian to victory over Team West in the inaugural Queen's Cup, a dual meet featuring the best female cue artists from Asia and the Western hemisphere. She capped off a stellar 2013 with a gold medal in women's 10-ball singles and silver in women's 9-ball singles at the 27th Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar.

Amit added two more SEA Games silvers in women's 9-ball singles, losing to Centeno in the final in the 2015 and 2017 editions. In both SEAGs, the host nation scrapped her pet event, 10-ball, denying her a chance to add to her medal haul. Cue sports were also stricken off the the list of events in both Asian Games held in the 2010s, again preventing Amit from possibly winning more medals for the Philippines. But she did win a silver in 10-ball at the 2017 AIMAG in Turkmenistan.

Amit capped off the decade with two gold medals and one silver medal in the 30th SEA Games and a final world ranking of third. For the past two years she has reached the semifinal of the Women's World 9-Ball Championship, finishing third in 2018 and fourth in 2019. She also topped a banner field at the 2017 Guri International 9-Ball Championship in South Korea.

Amit made her mark in the 2010s as one of the best 10-ball players in the world, regardless of gender. She will always be remembered for lighting a fire and inspiring other Filipinas to pick up a cue stick and follow her footsteps, the most notable of which is the ultra-talented Centeno.

Rubilen Amit's legacy is now cemented in Philippine cue sports lore and she is definitely deserving of her place in ESPN5.com's best athletes of the decade.