Bata Ousts Orcollo; Alcano, Django Fall

Efren Reyes

DUMAGUETE CITY---Hall Of Famer Efren "Bata" Reyes, acknowledged as the greatest pool player of all-time, played almost 100 percent on Thursday night to oust compatriot Dennis Orcollo, 9-3 and to keep Filipino hopes flying high in the on-going Negros Oriental International 9-Ball Championships at the Dumaguete Convention Center in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental.

The 53-year-old Reyes, top player of Puyat Sports jumped to an early 6-1 lead after winning the opening lag, and was never threatened the rest of the way in the race-to-9, alternate break, double elimination format of the TV table match which will be aired on Solar Sports on Nov. 22-29.

"The balls favor in my side, for flag and country I will do my very best," said Reyes who needs to make it past all of his opponent on the loser's side to advance in the cross-over semifinal round.

The 28-year-old Orcollo, a former fisherman from Bislig, Surigao del Sur, broke and ran in the 8th game to cut the lead to 6-2 count in the biggest-ever international standard event in the Visayas, made possible through the help of Negros Oriental 1 st district representative Josie Limkaichiong of La Libertad, NOKIA, KOPIKO 3-In-1 coffee, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and ALTUS.

Reyes answered with three balls on the break and then ran to a tough 7-9 combination for a 7-2 lead. Four unforced errors by Orcollo in the 10th rack allowed Reyes to boost his lead to 8-2.

A scratch by Reyes in the 11th rack gave Orcollo the chance to slice the lead down to 8-3 racks in the event which offers the top prize of $20,000. The runner-up here gets $10,000 while the losing-semi-finalist each receive $5,000.

In the 12th rack, Orcollo committed a dry break and watched as Reyes cleaned up the table for a magnificent 9-3 win in this event which featured some of the world's best that includes a total of nine (9) World Pool Champions headed by Reyes, Alex Pagulayan, Ronato Alcano of the Philippines, Johnny Archer of the United States, Ralf Souquet and Thorsten Hohmann of Germany, Chia-Ching Wu of Taiwan, Kunihiko Takahashi of Japan and Mika Immonen of Finland.

Dumaguete City Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge Rosendo Bandal, an avid billiard fanatic, a national master and former chess Olympian witnessed the superb performance of Reyes against Orcollo. "This is my first time to see Bata Reyes in person," said Bandal, a close family friend of tournament organizer Jonathan Sy, president of the Negros Billiard Stable (NBS).

European no.1 player Konstantin Stepanov of Russia had an easy time disposing of Alcano, 9-2, on the loser's side and then scored a come from behind 9-7 victory over Francisco "Django" Bustamante, the 2002 Cardiff World Pool runner-up.

The 43-year-old Bustamante, who beat Reyes, 9-2, in the opening round last Wednesday held a comfortable 7-3 lead in the one-loss side match but was stuck at 7 racks with two unforced errors.

Stepanov, a quarter-finalist in the 2007 Philippine World Pool Championships clustered five straight racks to climb to an 8-7 lead. Bustamante had a chance to tie the match at 8-all count but suffered a scratch in the 16th rack that provided Stepanov the chance for a 9-7 kill.

Sharing the limelight at this event is Filipino teen-ager Jech-Jech Limen of NBS who scored upset wins so far over heavyweight Naoyuki Oi of Japan, 9-5, and Wu, 9-3.

Satoshi Kawabata of Japan, the 2006 Doha Asian Games 8-ball gold medalist nipped two-time Asian Games 9-ball gold winner Ching-Shun Yang of Taiwan, 9-7, and countryman Takahashi, 9-5, to remain in contention in the loser's side.

Meanwhile, reigning US Bar Table 9-ball Champion and 8-ball Champion NBS bet Warren Kiamco of the Philippines defeated Hohmann, 9-7.