Ching Shun Yang keeps Taiwanese hopes alive

Ching-Shun Yang

Sensational 'Son of Pool' Ching-Shun Yang kept Taiwanese hopes alive with a brilliant 9-6 win over the Philippines Joss NE Tour star Ronnie Alcano in the quarter finals of the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour to save the day for the organizers after the other remaining hometown favorite Pei-Wei Chang, last year's World Pool Championship runner-up lost a 9-8 heartbreaker to Hong Kong's Chi-Wai Au at the jampacked Business Exhibition Center in the bustling port city of Kaosiung, Saturday.

In by far the best match of the third leg of the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour Yang fought off a desperate challenge from the lanky Alcano, the last man standing from the powerhouse Filipino contingent after Efren 'Bata' Reyes who won the second leg in Jakarta following the stunning victory of Gandy Valle over Yang in the opening leg in Singapore was ousted by Ibrahim Bin Amir, a Filipino who acquired Malaysian citizenship, 9-6.

There were hardly any unforced errors in the Yang-Alcano match but the Filipino who shocked and silenced the hometown crowd when he upset Taiwanese legend and 2000 World Pool Champion Fong Pang Chao in a cliffhanger 9-8 Friday saw Yang exploit the smallest error to the maximum in their quarter final classic. Chao had a golden opportunity to win the hill-hill battle in the round of sixteen but missed a difficult shot on the three-ball to give Alcano one of the biggest wins in his career.

In the quarter final shwdown against Yang, Alcano played well but he eventually had no answer to the brilliance of the Taiwanese hotshot whose awesome breaks and superb shot-making installed him a hot favorite to win his third title in three years and bring some happiness into the hearts and homes of hometown fans in this hotbed of pool where the World Pool Championship will be staged in July.

Yang and Chi-Wai Wu will try desperately to prevent an all-Japan final when they battle Kunihiko Takahashi who came back from a 3-7 deficit to string six successive racks to win 9-7 and once again stop last year's world No. 1 Francisco 'Django' Bustamante just when he looked ready to break his dry spell on the tour and smooth-stroking lefty Satoshi Kawabata who easily disposed of the upset-conscious Amir.

Reyes appeared tired and listless in his clash with Amir and was overheard telling a colleague that by signing hundreds of autographs his right hand was stiff and painful. Off to a sloppy start Reyes soon found himself down 0-3 and was trailing by five racks midway in the match. The 50 year old veteran who was last year's biggest money winner on the international circuit and leads again this year, suddenly found a spark as well as his magical touch and clawed back to within one at 6-7 but a couple of errors gave Amir the opening he was looking for and all it took was one sensational bank shot on the four-ball off a one cushion shot on the three-ball to seal the victory.

Last year the Malaysian also scored a stunning upset over Ching-Shun Yang and TV commentator Bob Guerrero whose exemplary knowledge of the game has elevated the quality of the already excellent ESPN Star Sports coverage to new heights, said the Malaysia was no slouch.