Corteza, Orcollo Take Charge at Guinness Tour; De Luna Suffers Double Black Eye

The Philippines' hottest young cue artists Lee Van "The Slayer" Corteza and Dennis "Robocop" Orcollo easily hurdled their first round assignments in the inauguration of the 2007 Guinness 9-ball tour being held at the Golden Ballroom of Sultan Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia.

According to Dux Carvajal of ESPN who was at the venue on Friday, Corteza, top player of Negros Billiards Stable (NBS) easily completed an 9-5 first-round victory over Muhammad Zulfikri of Indonesia in group G while Orcollo had an easier time with an 9-4 win against another Indon bet, Siauw Wieto in group F.

The 28-years-old Davao cue master Corteza, playing under the banner of sportsman/businessman Jonathan "Bacolod" Sy is the reigning national open champion and 39th All Japan Championships winner, will face Lee He Wen of China in the next round.

On the other hand, the 28-year-old Bislig, Surigao del Sur native Orcollo, the 2006 World Pool Leaque ruler takes on Liu Hao Tao of China.

A third Filipino, Jeffrey "The Bull" De Luna, the 2006 Doha Asian games 9-ball silver medalist was not fortunate this time losing to 2005 World Pool Champion Chia-Ching Wu of Chinese-Taipei, 4-9, in group A.

De Luna defeated Dharminder Singh Lily of Indonesia, 9-1, in the next round to finish with 1 win and 1 loss in the three-man group stage, single elimination round-robin format.

However, in a long distance exclusive interview with Carvajal yesterday, he mentioned that De Luna's quest for the next stage has small chances as Wu takes on Lily where the former (Wu) is a big favorite to win for a possible perfect 2.0 win-loss record.

"Wu is expected to win his last match against his Indon rivals for a possible 2-0 win-loss record." Carvajal said yesterday before the match of Wu against Lily.

It was a double black eye for De luna who lost in a money game battle last Wednesday against local player Siaw Wieto, 10-12, where at stake was US$1,100 according to news report of matchroom forum sports.

The fourth Filipino in the group is double world champion (WPA 9-ball and WPA 8-ball) Ronato "Volcano" Alcano still playing as of press time (yesterday afternoon at 5 pm in Manila time) with Patrick Ooi of Malaysia in group H. The 34-years-old lanky cue artist Alcano from Calamba City, Laguna is also scheduled to meet Ching-Shun Yang of Chinese-Taipei late Friday.

The Philippine team will be missing the celebrated hall of famer Efren "Bata" Reyes and former world no.1 Francisco "Django" Bustamante this time.

Reyes and Bustamante, both top player of RP billiards patron Aristeo "Putch" Puyat are brand endorsers of San Miguel Beer, direct competitor of Guinness, the Irish stout beer, famous in whole part of Europe as well in Asia but not in the Philippines.

All four Filipino representatives this year did not see action in the Tour last year. But Alcano won a leg in the 2005 Tour and Corteza topped the Philippine leg in the 2004 Tour. All four are considered among the elite in Filipino pool today.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's Chang Jung-Lin dominated his group D matches by beating 2003 and 2005 Southeast Asian games gold medallist Luong Chi Dung of Vietnam, 9-8, and Ricky Yang of Indonesia, 9-7, respectively to advance in the next round.

Local star Jimmy Jusman also made it in the next round after sweeping his group C assignment. He overpowered Filipino-Malaysian Ibrahim Bin Amir, 9-8, and Tan Tiong Boong of Singapore, 9-6, in order.

Nitiwat Kanjanasri of Indonesia who pulled an 9-6 victory against Bernard Tey Choon Kiet of Singapore, 9-6, in the opening match in group B stage failed to sustain his momentum yielding to Au Chi Wai of Hongkong, 5-9, in next round match.

Another ex-world champ Taiwan's Fong Pang Chao opened his bid on a high note with a 9-5 victory against Japan no.1 player Naoyuki Oi in group E.

With Guinness as the new sponsor, the entire Tour offers total prize money of $320,000 (up from US$160,000 last year), and it will feature a Grand Final in Bali for the Top 10 players. Winners of each leg will win US$15,000 while the Grand Final Champion will walk away with US$36,000. With six stops, this is the biggest Tour since its inception in 2003.

After the opening leg in Jakarta, the Tour's other stops are Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei on May 18 to 20 then off to Genting Highlands Resort in Malaysia on June 15 to 17, 2007. The next leg will be in Singapore on July 13 to 15, 2007, and in Shanghai, China on August 3 to 5, 2007.

The Grand Championship Final is slated August 31 to Sept. 2 in Bali, Indonesia.

The Tour qualifies players for the WPA World Pool Championship. The top ten finishers will automatically qualify for pool's most prestigious event, which is slated in Manila on November 3-11.

The Guinness 9-Ball Tour will be broadcast live by Star Sports, with 15 hours devoted to each leg. Each leg will be held over three days, with the field of 24 players divided into eight groups which will play a single round-robin format. The eight group winners will advance to the quarter-finals where the knockout format will apply as the players play through to the final.