Corteza cops title; Rañola tops ladies

MANILA, Philippines - Lee Vann Corteza subdued Marlon Manalo, 13-11, late last night to rule the Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) National Pool Championship at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

In the process, Corteza pocketed the top purse of P500,000 in the men's division of the event presented by San Miguel Beer.

Iris Rañola, on the other hand, emerged the first ever winner of the ladies section and went home with P200,000.

The 27-year-old from Divisoria, Zamboanga prevailed over fellow national Mary-Ann Basas of Davao City, 9-7, to cap an unbeaten run.

Top favorite Rubilen Amit earlier bested Jingle David, 7-5, in the battle for third place to pocket P50,000. David received P25,000. Dennis Orcollo hacked out an 11-10 decision over Japan-based Antonio Lining to settle for third place in the men's division.

Corteza, the reigning All-Japan champion, broke off from a 6-6 count to frustrate Manalo, semifinalist in the 2005 World Pool Championship, who settled for P250,000.

“Alay ko po sa aking ama (Emilio Rañola) ang tagumpay kong ito. Siya po ang inspirasyon ko sa paglalaro ng aking bilyar kasama na po ang buo kong pamilya (This is for my father. He is my inspiration along with my whole family),” said a teary-eyed Rañola.

The elder Rañola is fighting stage 4 throat cancer in Zamboanga.

Rañola, Basas and Amit actually used the tournament as warmup for their stint in the Amway world pool championship in Taiwan starting on April 5.

With Amit already qualified to the tournament proper after finishing in the top 24 last year, Rañola and Basas will leave for Taiwan today to join the qualifying round which begins tomorrow.

Amit together with national coach Edgar Asonto will join the two also on Monday.

Rañola, who had earlier beaten Basas in the quarterfinals, surged to a 4-2 lead and was on the verge of wrapping it up on the 13th rack when she missed an easy shot on No. 9.

Basas closed to within 7-8 but Rañola ended the suspense on the 16th rack.