Alcano Ends Amazing Run By Winning The World Pool Championship

Ronnie Alcano

Lanky Ronnie Alcano put an exclamation mark to his amazing run in the 2006 Philippines World Pool Championship with a stunning 17-11 triumph over German machine Ralf Souquet 17-11 after earlier thrashing defending champion and overwhelming favorite Wu Chia-ching of Chinese-Taipei in the quarter finals before ending the equally impressive advance of soft-spoken Li He-win of China with an 11-8 semi final victory on Saturday.

Alcano whose soft break was almost impeccable throughout played a series of equistive safeties to put Souquet on the defensive from the opening rack when Souquet won the break but Alcano took the rack before racing to a 3-0 lead. With his left upper arm apparently stiff Alcano applied some vicks in-between breaks and from then on never looked in trouble at all.

Alcano continued to play precision pool and dictated the tempo of the match from then on to win one safety battle after another to race to an 8-2 lead. After Souquet pulled one rack back Alcano sank a fabulous 3-9 combo. Souquet tried desperately to claw back but nothing went right for him and when Alcano set himself up beautifully for a a 6-9 combo to establish a 14-6 lead things looked hopeless for the former world champion. Souquet got his rhythm going and with his first break and runout cut the lead to seven racks and with his third break back made it 14-8.

The Germam completed only his second break and runout to threaten at 14-9 but Alcano responded with a superb break and runout of his own and when Alcano exhibited a touch of nerves and missed a long shot on the 9-ball when he had a chance to get on the hill by breaking Souquet's break the German made itb 15-10. With the huge crowd chanting "Ronnie! Ronnie!" the Calamba native behind a couple of spectacular bank shots made it 16-10 before Souquet, in one desperate bid sank the 9-ball for a golden break and a 16-11 count.

Alcano smiled, strode to the table and after Souquet was drawn into a foul shot after an excruciatingly long safety battle and Alcano ended Souquet's anguish and fulfilled his own dreams with a 1-9 combo that earned him the biggest prize of his life, a cool $100,000 or P5 million. Souquet settled for $40,000 or P 2 million.

In the semi finals Souquet triumphed in a nerve-wracking battle with another Chinese-Taipei find Fu Che-wei 11-10 to set up what could well turn into a classic showdown in the race-to-17 finals at the beautiful Philippine International Convention Center which is bound to be jam-packed since tickets had been sold out days in advance.

Alcano squeezed into the knockout round of 64 through the thinnest of cuts in the group stage. Going into his final group 28 match at a time when Christian Reimering of Germany and Marcel Martens of the Netherlands had only one win apiece with Luong Chi –dung of Vietnam already assured of advancing, Alcano was told he had to defeat Martens by a score of 8-2 to force a three-way tie for second and advance. Alcano in an incredible performance did just that and beat Martens by one single rack less in the loss column to make it.

Alcano first burst onto the national scene when he finished runner-up to veteran Edgar Acaba in a Vintage TV tournament titled “The Rising Stars of 9-Ball” organized by the recognized godfather of Philippine pool Aristeo “Putch” Puyat at the Metropolis in Alabang some ten years ago. Alcano made an immediate impact when he competed in the tough Joss NE Tour in the US and after some ups and downs has begun to live up to his true potential.

With the pressure off, Alcano started his knockout run with a 10-1 massacre of countryman Roberto Gomez before scoring a stunning 10-7 victory over the hero to millions and the sentimental hometown favorite Efren “Bata” Reyes. In a post-match interview Alcano confidently predicted “if I can beat Efren, I can beat anybody.” He proceeded to live up to his boast, easily disposing of last year's WPC runner-up Kuo Po-cheng of Chinese-Taipei before silencing the big gun from Taiwan, last year's champion who had been in awesome form, 17 year old sensation Wu Chia-ching.

Alcano, in a commendable gesture said that while he is under tremendous pressure he wants to “show respect to my opponent (Souquet) and I hope the crowd will also respect him.” In terms of the match Alcano believes he has an edge with his break, having read the center TV table well and resorting to a soft break which was the key to defeating Wu and Li..

In a pre-finals conversation with Viva Sports/Manila Standard Today, Souquet said “ I know Alcano is a great player. He has beaten the cream of the cream on the way to the finals and is definitely one of the best players in the world, but I wont be thinking about my opponent. I will just play my game and do my best. ” Souquet said he will go to the final like any other match. I want to have fun and enjoy it and play good.”

Noting that he expected the crowd to be against him the German ace known as “The Kaiser” said he won't feel bad even if the hometown crowd cheers everytime he misses a shot. He said “that's alright as long as they don't throw stuff at me and as long as they don't use flash cameras on me a million times.” Souquet said “as long as I keep myself together and play to my own rhythm and try not to be somebody else and try to stay calm, I'll be alright.”