Foreign bets Dominate Enerva Asian 9-Ball Tour Qualifying Round

MANDALUYONG CITY, PHILIPPINES---FORMER World No.1 Filipino billiards master Francisco "Django" Bustamante wasn't surprised with the results yesterday as the veteran foreign bets take charge at the start of the qualifying round of Enerva Asian 9-ball Tour Ladies Championship at the Paeng's Skybowl in Robinson's Galleria Mall here.

" It is not suprising anymore that right from the start the foreign bets flexed their muscle. They are all veteran and we are just starting in the women's competition." Bustamante told INQUIRER SPORTS yesterday after watching the ongoing first-ever and historic Philippine Women's International 9-ball championship.

" Everything start likes this. I still believe that this will be the start of the boom of women's billiards here." referring to Rubilen 'Bingkay' Amit heroic wins in last year's Southeast Asian Games after sweeping the two gold medal at stakes in the 9-ball and 8-ball women's individual competition.

Tournament director Rolly "Lando" Vicente, long-time friend and manager of another Filipino billiard wizard Efren "Bata" Reyes echoed Bustamante's statements.

" Players from Chinese-Taipei and Japan are really world-class." said Vicente.

Mandaluyong ace Shiela Dela Cruz who made a big wave in the opener after demolishing highly favored Shu-Pin Kao of Chinese-Taipei, 7-5, collapsed in the second round against Chihiro Kawahara of Japan by a 4-7 count to suffer her first loss in the race-to-seven, alternate breaks, double elimination format.

" She's (Chihiro Kawahara) really very good and a tough opponent." insisted Dela Cruz in a post-game interview.

After winning the opening lag, Dela Cruz missed the No.7 ball in the right corner pocket shot allowing her Japanese rival to take a 1-0 lead.

Dela Cruz, obviously nervous in the game, allowed her Japanese opponent four consecutive racks to take a comfortable 5-0 lead.

"I am idle for quite a long time that's why my game suffered," said the 2002 Asian 8-ball 3rd placer in Singapore which was won by countryman Rubilen 'Bingkay' Amit.

Despite a slow start in the opener, Dela Cruz closed the match at 5-3 count after she run out in the 8th frame for her third consecutive racks.

But Kawahara's golden break in the 9th frame came to take a commanding 6-3 lead.

Dela Cruz had a chance to trim down the score at 6-5 in the 11th racks but missed the No.7 ball as Kawahara escaped with a 7-4 victory.

Filipina hopeful Mary Ann Basas, who got a bye in the first round bowed to Hsiang-Ling Tan of Chinese-Taipei, 1-7, to join Dela Cruz, Johanna Dee, Sabrina Castanos, Rowena Peralta, Kaye Gil, Cez Marquez, Jingle David, Jargelyn Maldonado and Angeline Halili of the Philippines in the loser's brackets.

Among the foreign players still unscathed as of yesterday were Ya-Ling-Chen, Hu-Shan Lai, Pei-Chun Lin, Shu-Han Chang, Jui-Fang Fan, Chie-Yu Chou, Yuan Chun Lin and Pei Chen Tsai of Chinese-Taipei, Mika Muneta, Sakiko Namiki, Noiryo Hayasahi and Kazuko Shimizi of Japan.

Sixteen slots are up for grabs in the qualifying round yesterday, a day before the main event which begins today, April 26 to 28, 2006 at the Robinson's Galleria fountain area and will be aired lived on IBC 13 and Solar Sports. Action starts at 1:00 pm.

The tournament offers $10,000 to the champion, $ 5,000 to the runner-up, $ 2,500 each for the losing semi-finalists, $ 1,500 each for 5th and 6th placers, $1,000 each for 7th and 8th placers, $750 each for 9th to 12th placers and $500 each for 13th to 16th placers.

Meanwhile, among the favorites players seeded in the main draw which starts at 1:00 pm today are 2005-2006 back to back World Women's Champion Ga Young Kim of Korea, Rubilen 'Bingkay' Amit and Irish Ranola of the Philippines, Jennifer Chen and Shin-Men Liu of Chinese-Taipei, Akimi Kajitani of Japan, Desak Kasih Aryati and Nova Floura Rachmawati of Indonesia, Pan Xiao Ting and Zhou Meng Meng of China, Chai Zeet Huey and Hoe Shu Wah of Singapore.

" I am more nervous if my opponent is lower rated than me. Our countrymen expects a lot from favored players."said Zamboanga City native Ranola yesterday after watching the qualifying round.

Despite the big advantage of foreign players in terms of experience and number of entries, RP women's head coach Edgard "Boyet" Asonto quipped, " The main battle starts only now. We hope that Rubilen (Amit) and Irish (Ranola) will be lucky in the main draw.But the biggest factor is our fervent prayers."