Alcano beats Yang in sensational final

Ronnie Alcano

Lanky Ronnie Alcano of the Philippines, runner-up in the 'Rising Stars of 9-Ball' presented by Viva Sports some four years ago proved he was indeed a star by rising to the challenge and scoring a sensational 11-6 victory over Chinese-Taipei's highly favored 'Son of Pool' Ching Shun Yang in the final leg of the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour, Sunday.

The crowd at the Trade Hall of Robinson's Galleria who were pained by the loss of national hero Efren 'Bata' Reyes in an epic quarter final duel with Yang on Saturday when 'The Magician' lost 9-8 in the hot and humid conditions and then sat and watched as Gandy Valle squandered his chances and lost to the Taiwanese hotshot in the semis, erupted with a roar as Alcano nailed the 9-ball in the 17th rack and raised his cue stick in triumph.

Alcano who had a fairly comfortable win over countryman Antonio 'Nikoy' Lining in the semi finals looked refreshed and full of confidence when he won the lag and quickly won the opening rack after a great safety and then pulled ahead 2-0 after Yang missed a tough shot on the 1-ball and the Filipino with a magnificent cut cleaned up for a 2-0 lead. Alcano, whose near perfect break was a feature of the match ran out rack three with no trouble at all to move ahead 3-0 before Yang answered with a run-out of his own to get on the board at 3-1.

Alcano then played an outstanding safety,inviting Yang to try a masse which didn't work out leaving a shot for Alcano. In what TV commentator Bob Guerrero described as 'a glorious pot that had confidence written all over it' Alcano raced to a 4-1 lead.

Not too adept with the jump cue like most Filipinos, Alcano fouled a shot on the 3-ball and Yang pounced on the chance to clean up and come to within two racks at 4-2. The Taiwanese who won the last tour stop in Kaohsiung then played some brilliant pool to edge closer at 4-3 but after sinking four balls on the break Yang snookered himself behind the 6-ball and fouled allowing Alcano to clean up for a 5-3 spread.

After Alcano missed a safety on the 1-ball on his break but settled for a partial snooker. Yang played an awesome shot with the jump cue but was forced to play a safety on the 2-ball. Once again Alcano proved he was no Yang when it came to the jump cue and fouled once again. Yang made it 5-4 before he broke and ran out to tie the count at 5-5 causing some concern among Filipino fans including the 'Godfather' of Philippine pool Aristeo 'Putch' Puyat who intently followed the action.

Alcano showed amazing control of the cue ball and dug the 2-ball out of the clutches of the eight for a 6-5 lead but Yang, bucking the fans and the classy play of Alcano quickly broke and ran out to once again tie the count at 6-6. The Filipino, showing a slight trace of nerves missed a fairly simple shot on the 2-ball but luckily didn't leave Yang much to work with and Alcano salvaged the rack to once again edge in front 7-6.

Yang who was breaking with authority inexplicably scratched on his break in the 14th rack and Alcano made short work of the rack with an immediate 1-9 combination to jump in front 8-6. An incredible bank shot on the 2-ball after his break enabled Alcano to slowly pull away at 9-6.

For the second time in succession Yang, desperately looking for a way back into the match scratched after completely losing control of the cue ball which looped around the table before dropping into the pocket to the anguish of Yang. For Alcano, with ball in hand, a run-out was a mere formality.

Leading 10-6, Alcano came up with another excellent break and ran-out for an 11-6 win although the score-line did not reflect the closeness of the match. It was Alcano's first big win before TV cameras that carried the action to millions of pool fans around Asia who have followed the prestigious San Miguel Asian 9-Ball tour for the past three years.

Alcano, a standout on the Joss NE Tour in the US, in a post match interview said 'I am super happy. I just got the upper-hand early and that helped me win.'

With his victory which enabled him to pocket the top prize of $10,000 Alcano avenged his loss to Yang in the semi finals of the Tour stop in Kaohsiung and earned a slot in the World Pool Championship in Taiwan in July.

Photo courtesy of Diana Hoppe - Pool Pics by Hoppe