Alex Pagulayan wins opener in Fil 9-Ball Open

Alex Pagulayan

NEW YORK-NEW YORK---ALEX "The Lion" Pagulayan was in a hurry in the Philippine 9-Ball Billiards Open Wednesday at the Robinson?s Galleria Trade Hall in Mandaluyong City, Philippines.

The reigning U.S. Open champion reached the hill without dropping a set on his way to a 9-3 victory over Jundel Mazon.

Saved for his service error on the 10th, Pagulayan was flawless against his upset-conscious foe. He holed the colored balls consistently off the break and his precise pocketing had his opponent and the crowd glued on their seats.

Pagulayan was also hardly threatened in the opener, beating Fidel Punzalan, 9-5. Francisco ?Django? Bustamante, on the other hand, had to endure some anxious moments in his victories over Victor Arpilleda and Gandy Valle. He beat Arpilleda, 9-7, in the first round and Valle, 9-8, in the second round.

Also posting their second win in as many games were defending champion Antonio Gabica, Jeffrey de Luna, Ronnie Alcano, Mario Tolentino and Edgardo Sibuco. Gabica survived a second straight hill-hill match, edging Luis Saberdo, 9-8; de Luna downed Benson Palce, 9-5; Alcano crushed Elvis Perez, 9-4; Tolentino defeated Rodolfo Luat, 9-6; and Sibuco stunned Leonardo Andam, 9-5.

The biggest news came from the loser?s bracket as Roberto Gomez rallied from several two-rack deficit to eliminate Efren ?Bata? Reyes, 9-8, Wednesday night. The youthful cue-artist, who struggled to qualify in the main draw, took the last three racks to pull off the king-size upset.

With his breaks giving him more trouble than opportunity, Gomez trailed 2-4, 3-5, 4-6 and 6-8 before his sweeping finish. Reyes, who dropped a 4-9 decision to Tolentino, had his turn on the table in each of the last three racks, but his safety shots proved to be anything but safe to his fearless opponent.

A daring jump shot to pocket the one-ball on the 16th frame allowed Gomez to clean up and level the count at 8-all.

Luck was also on his side as his errant safety shot on the two led the brown seven to the side pocket and gave him a clear shot on the stubborn blue ball.

The tournament co-organized by Solar Sports and Puyat Sports offers a total of P1.35-million.

Meanwhile, Marlon "Marvelous" Manalo skip in the said event after an early commitment in international tournament. The 29-years-old Jose Rizal University (JRU) AB Economics graduate will seeing in action in the prestigious US$130,000 prize purse Skins Billiards Championships on October 21 to 22, 2005 at the Resorts Atlantic City in New Jersey.

"I told already to Mr. Ernie Fajardo (BSCP president) and RP head coach Mr. Ramon Ancaja that prior for the RP 9-ball Open I had an early commitment in international event." said Manalo.

"It is a big opportunity to other uprising billiard player that will replace my slot," added Manalo, who joining compatriot Santos Sambajon in the richest event US$ 50,000 added prize fund. Admission is free to all specatators according to the organizing committee.