Corteza Beats Souquet; Pagulayan Crushes Wu

DUMAGUETE CITY--- Current Philippine National Champion Lee Vann Corteza overcame a tough challenge from former World 9-ball Champion Ralf Souquet of Germany, 9-7, in the last TV table matches to stay on course and remain an early favorite to advance to the next round in the biggest-ever international standard event in the Visayas, the Negros Oriental International 9-Ball Championships at the Dumaguete Convention Center in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental late Wednesday here.

Disappointed with his loss against compatriot Jeffrey de Luna in their quarter-final encounter at the 2007 Philippine World Pool Championships in Manila, the 28-year-old Corteza, top player of Negros Billiard Stable (NBS) has come well prepared going into this competition jointly organized by NBS and Puyat Sports and will be aired on Solar Sports from Nov.22-29 and setting his eyes on no less than the Negros crown and the top prize of $20,000. The runner-up gets $10,000 while the losing-semifinalist will walk away $5,000 each.

Corteza, a multiple Southeast Asian Games gold medalist who hails from Davao City took a 6-4 lead after winning the 10th rack in the race-to-9, alternate break, double elimination format. Corteza, fondly called "The Slayer" in the world of pool, posted a 9-4 opening match win against countryman Boyet Drillon and will meet another World 9-Ball Champion Mika " Iceman" Immonen of Finland in the third round of winner's bracket today, Friday. Immonen, a frequent Manila visitor had a hard time disposing of Jech-Jech Limen, 9-6, and Warren Kiamco of the Philippines, 9-7.

Souquet, also the 2006 Philippine World Pool Championships runner-up had a chance to tie the game at 8-all count but suffered a scratch in his break in the 16th rack allowing the Filipino cue artist to escape with a 9-7 victory.

Jonathan Sy, who is the brain child behind bringing this event here in Visayas said "It was my dream someday to hold a big tournament here in Visayas which include the former World 9-Ball Champions and the top pool player in the land and other top player from neighbors countries along with the Americans and European cue masters,". Sy is the president of the Negros Billiard Stable and also received the support of Negros Oriental 1st district representative Josie Limkaichiong of La Libertad.

The Provincial Government, with the help of the private sector, acquired the rights to host the event that is also aimed at boosting the efforts to promote the Province of Negros Oriental. The international event is made possible through the help of the following major sponsors: NOKIA, KOPIKO 3-In-1 coffee, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and ALTUS.

Meanwhile, Alex "The Lion" Pagulayan, the 2004 Taiwan World Pool Championships champion also posted his second straight win against fellow World 9-Ball Champion Chia-Ching Wu of Taiwan, 9-5, in the second TV table matches. He also beat fellow Pinoy Arturo Publico, 9-1, and will play former US Open winner Corey Deuel of the United States next. Deuel clustered a similar 9-6 victory over teen-ager Mike Takayama and Chien-te Chung of Taiwan, respectively.

Jarry "Putol" Pelayo and Elmer Haya, both playing out of NBS registered back to back upset wins against heavy favorite opponents.

The 32-year-old Pelayo, who lost his two fingers when he was a little boy by playing with fire crackers shocked two-time Asian Games 9-ball gold medalist Ching-Shun Yang, 9-8, and another Filipino entry Rodolfo "Boy Samson" Luat, 9-3, while Haya, a pool instructor in Kuwait trounced Japan based Pinoy Ramil "Bebeng" Gallego, 9-8, and 2006 Asian Games 8-ball gold winner Satoshi Kawabata, 9-5, in order.

With the win, Pelayo goes up against Elvis Calasang while Haya will face Leonardo "Dodong" Didal in another Filipino third round winner's brackets encounter today, Friday.

Calasang beat Dennis Orcollo, 9-8, and Francisco Bustamante, 9-2, respectively while Didal upset European no.1 player Konstantin Stepanov of Russia, 9-6, and Niels Feijen of the Netherlands, 9-4.

Bustamante, who beat his Puyat Sports stablemate tournament favorites Efren "Bata" Reyes 9-2 in their initial encounter, needed to win his match in the loser's brackets to stay in the title hunt in this $61,400 total prize fund event. RP billiards patron Aristeo "Putch" Puyat is schedule to arrive here today to give support for the Filipinos campaigner according to tournament director Rolly "Lando" Vicente.