A Russian Is Coming But The Americans Are Gone

A Russian Is Coming But The Americans Are Gone

A young Russian Konstantin Stepanov is coming to challenge the best in the round of 32 in the prestigious 2006 Philippines World Pool Championships in Manila but in stark contrast the Americans are gone after a disastrous showing in the knockout phase which opened Wednesday at the Philippine International Convention Center.

Five Americans advanced through the initial group elimination phase but fell apart when the must-win stage got under way. A totally disinterested Earl Strickland whose boorish behavior irritated his opponents and amused most Filipino fans who have gotten used to his antics was crushed 10-2 by Liu Cheng-chuan of Chinese-Taipei. For the first time Strickland who has had acrimonious run-ins with a succession of Taiwanese players was the perfect loser, warmly congratulating Cheng for a playing so well. It was obvious that Strickland, despite the fabulous venue and the tremendous fan support aside from the well-known hospitality of the hosts which has drawn rave revues from the other players, was keen on getting out as soon as possible.

Johnny Archer and Corey Deuel, two likeable individuals whose warm demeanor starkly contrasts with that of Strickland were both ousted. Archer lost to Taiwan's sensational “Son of Pool” Yang Ching-shun 10-6 while Deuel was blasted by defending champion, teenage sensation Wu Chia-ching of Chinese-Taipei 10-3.

Charlie “The Korean Dragon” Williams was whipped by Sandor Tot of Hungary 10-5 while former US Open champion Jeremy Jones was demolished by Filipino veteran Rodolfo Luat 10-5.

Four of the nine Americans who made it to the main draw of 128 players didn't even get past the opening group stage. Rodney “The Rocket” Morris finished third in Group 3, Mike Davis was fourth in Group 5, Robb Saez was third in Group 5 and Tony Crosby was third in the group of Efren “Bata” Reyes and was edged out by “The Magician” in a racks won-lost decider sending all of them packing their bags early and leaving for home.

It was clear that the Americans who dominated pool some twenty years ago are no longer invincible with a wave of superb players from the Philippines and Chinese-Taipei, emerging threats from China and Indonesian and a host of hitherto unknown talents from Europe.