Alex Pagulayan Wins Japan Open

Alex Pagulayan

Alex Pagulayan won his first major title this year by demolishing Taiwanese hopeful Ro-Li Wen (9-6) in the finals of 17th Japan 9-Ball Open late Sunday in Tokyo, Japan.

Pagulayan, the 2004 World Pool Champion, 2005 US Open winner and 2006 BSCP National Pool kingpin defeated beat countryman Rodolfo Luat (9-4) in the round-of-16, Naoyuki Ooi of Japan (9-6) in the round-of-8 and Antonio “Nickoy” Lining (9-5) in the round-of-4, respectively to reach the finals.

Li Wen on the other hand needed to beat countryman Kuo Po Cheng (9-6) in the semi-final round matches to arrange titular showdown with Pagulayan.

Before the race-to-9 winner's break finals, Lee Van Corteza, another Filipino entry from Davao City who failed to make it in the money wished good luck to Pagulayan.

In a long distance exclusive interview with this writer, Corteza, the top player of Negros Billiard Stable (NBS) said despite his failure to make it in the money round he is very happy because one of Filipino pool player advanced in the finals which offers 1.5 million yen according to Corteza.

“Sana manalo si Alex (Pagulayan) sa finals (I hope Alex (Pagulayan) will win the Japan 9-ball Open .” said Corteza, who hails from Davao City and won the 2006 All Japan Championships last November.

Regarding his game, Corteza said that his Japanese foe was very lucky in their qualifying matches being held in the key cities of Japan simultaneously. He lost the match at 9-6 racks score.

“Malas talaga ako (I'm not lucky). Naka run-out agad ‘yung hapon ng anim na racks sa winner's break format kaya naiwanan agad ako (He clustered six straight racks in the opener).” He added. “Pero nagawa ko pa ding makabawi at idikit ang laro sa 6-5 hanggang 8-6 (However i can manage to close the match at 6-5 to 8-6.” Corteza said.

Trailing at 6-0 count in the opening matches, Corteza bravely came back in the game notching five straight racks to slice the score at 6-5 count. From then Corteza again closed the match at an 8-6 count before his Japanese foe won the last rack.

Lining, the defending Japan 9-Ball Open champion ousted Dennis “Robocop” Orcollo (9-2) in the round-of-16 then subdued Gallego, last year's two-time Japan in the round-of-8 (9-5), before bowing to Pagulayan (9-5) in the round-of-4. Former world no.1 Francisco “Django” Bustamante made it in the round-of-16 but failed to progress while another Pinoy bet Roel Esquillo bowed out in the round-of-8 against Kuo (9-8).

Other players seeing action in this year's Japan 9-ball Open but failing to reach the money rounds included pool maestro Efren “Bata” Reyes, double world champion Ronato “Volcano” Alcano, uprising Jharome “Pendong” Peña and last year's runner-up Dondon “Calauag” Razalan.

In the distaff side, local top player Akimi Kajitani advanced in the quarter-final round along with Kawahara Chihiro, Yukawa Keiko, Fuke Miyuki, Sone Kyoko and Shimizu Kazuko of Japan and Lai Hui-Shan of Chinese-Taipei.

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