Filipinos Fill Mayor’s Cup Final Four

MANDALUYONG CITY---After five days of intense, exciting action, four players remain standing in the Mandaluyong Mayor's Cup of the Philippine Pool Tour. And they are, interestingly and surprisingly, all Filipinos.

Philippine junior champion Jerico Banares and veteran Leonardo Andam notched two critical wins each in Day 5 to join Marlon Manalo and Antonio Gabica in the Final Four. Manalo and Gabica had booked their places in the semifinals in Day 4.

Former world champion Thorsten Hohmann of Germany and Chien-Te Chung of Taiwan, the remaining foreign players in the field, failed in their respective bids to stay in contention for the $10,000 top prize.

The inaugural tournament of the PPT moved Saturday from the Kaban ng Hiyas Auditorium to the Mandaluyong City Hall Atrium for the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. The event has been reduced to one Brunswick table. And it is now being broadcast live on ABS Studio 23 nationwide in the Philippines, and worldwide on the Filipino Channel. A live Webcast is also being provided on this Raya website.

Banares, easily the sensation of the tournament at 18 years of age, began the day by edging Leonardo Didal, 9-7, in an exciting contest. Trailing 8-7, Didal had a chance to forge a hill-hill climax. But having to stretch over balls with the mechanical bridge proved too much for him. He muffed his chance. Banares closed the deal immediately afterwards.

The eighteen-year-old then went up against Hohmann, who had been in good form throughout the tournament and had lost a hill-hill thriller to Manalo for his only loss. Banares quickly showed that he could already play with the big boys. He raced to a 7-0 lead before yielding a rack to Hohmann.

Hohmann gamely tried to make a match of it as Banares briefly faltered in his shotmaking. But with a chance to close the count to 8-5, he overshot his position on the 10-ball in the 14th rack and had to settle for a bank shot. He missed and Banares closed out the match.

Andam's march to the Final Four was just as thrilling. Facing first the formidable Chung, who had been solid throughout the tournament, he raced to a 3-0 lead, only to muff position and his shot on the 10-ball in the 4th rack.

Chung closed the count to 3-2 and had a chance to tie in the 6th rack, but he missed a shot on the 8-ball and Andam got the breathing room he needed. Feeling more confident, the veteran stormed ahead to a 7-2 lead and then coasted to victory.

Andam's next match with Mario Tolentino began in reverse fashion, as he had to battle back to contend. Tolentino quickly raced to a 5-0 lead and was looking invincible. But then Andam took the 6th rack with a good runout of the table. That started a remarkable roll of seven straight racks, punctuated by fine shotmaking, great position play and smooth runouts.

With the score at 8-7 and a chance to tie, Tolentino failed in a long cross-table bank shot of the 7-ball. Andam closed the deal.

The tournament now enters the final day of action on Sunday (May 12) with the cross-over semifinals. Manalo will face Banares in the first match. And Gabica will face Andam in the other semifinal.

The winners will then clash for the championship – and the trophy and check of $10,000 that go with it.