Andam Breaks Taiwanese Stranglehold

Veteran Leonardo “Dodong” Andam nicknamed “The Rattlesnake” showed he still had some venom in his cue stick when he overcame a tough field in the sixth qualifier to book a place in the 2007 World Pool Championships which opens on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum, the renowned “Mecca” of Philippine sports and entertainment.

The 47 year old Andam joined Alwi of Indonesia who won the sixth qualifier to break the stranglehold of the machine-like Taiwanese who had won three of then four previous qualifiers and relegated the hometown favorites to the spectators gallery. Coincidentally, Alwi is also named “Dodong.”

But Andam corrected the seeming anomaly when he bested a field of 84 with a super display of skill and coolness under pressure even when all seemed lost. Down in a clash with fellow Filipino Elvis Calasang who rocked and rolled to a 6-3 lead, Andam clawed back in a classic display of pool that had the fans at the Star Billiards Center gasping in awe to win 7-5.

Facing young Jherome Pena who gave snooker ace Steve Davis a run for his money in last year's round of 32, eventually losing 8-10, Andam demonstrated his superb positional play, exquisite safeties and perfect positional play to rout Pena who could merely sit and watch in amazement as the veteran ran out rack-after-rack in effortless fashion 9-4.

Alwi showed he was not afraid of the reputation of the Taiwanese when he beat two of their aces - Kun-Fang Lee in the semi finals 7-5 and followed it up with a 9-7 win over Hung-hsiang Wang in the finals.

Andam, a part-time fisherman in Mindanao, finished 65th in last year's World Pool Championship and is perhaps best remembered for his four gold medals in the 1991 Southeast Asian Games. He also won the “Match of the Masters” International 9-ball championships in 2000 and was first runner-up in the Philippine International Open 9-Ball Championship in 2005.