Gabica Beats Manalo; Wins Mandaluyong Mayors Cup

ANTONIO "Ga Ga" Gabica scored a long-awaited victory when he beat compatriot and fellow PBDF player Marlon "Marvelous" Manalo, 13-8, in the finals of a tough Mandaluyong Mayor's Cup Ten Ball Championship; the inauguration of the Philippine Pool Tour (PPT) at the Mandaluyong Hall Auditorium in Mandaluyong City, on Sunday.

Gabica, who failed to bag any single local or international title this year, hopes to regain his best form in the time of World Ten Ball Championships slated for September.

Gabica received the top prize of $10,000 and a slot for this year's World Ten Ball event.

Gabica raced to a 3-1 and 5-2 lead and then took four of the seven racks for a commanding 9-5 lead. Manalo came back to within one game at 9-8, but Gabica regained control and never looked back for a 13-8 victory.

"At last" said Gabica, who teamed up with Manalo to win the gold medal in the doubles competition in the last year's Southeast Asian Games in Thailand.

The tournament, jointly organized by the Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) and Raya Sports, aired lived through ABS Studio 23 and the Filipino Channel. The event was hosted by mayor Benhur Abalos in close cooperation with League Cities of the Philippines. World Class Brunswick Billiard Table is the official billiard table.

It was a third straight victory for Gabica over Manalo in their head to head duel after the Gabica beat Manalo twice recently in the Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) qualifying tournament for the Guinness 9-ball tour and World 8-Ball slots.

Gabica trounced national junior champion Jericho Banares, 11-3, yesterday to arrange a titular showdown with Manalo, who earlier booked his semi-finalist seat by beating Leonardo Andam, 11-7.

"I expect a tought match against Marlon (Manalo), " Commented the Lapu-Lapu City native Gabica before the race-to-13 finals.

Interestingly, Gabica and Manalo, both top player of the Philippine Billiards Development Foundation (PBDF) play under the tutelage of Amado "June" Diokno and Willie "Hoots" Aldeguer.

Gabica's road to the finals came through wins over Richard Rollo, 9-5, Silverio Tulabing, 9-4, Courtent Symons of England, 9-4 and Tomoo Takano of Japan 9-4.

Manalo, on the other hand beat Luis Saberdo, 9-6, James Al Ortega, 9-7, Gerald Carbonera, 9-4, and Allan Soliman, 9-5 respectively.

Meanwhile, Banares and Andam, both advanced into the final four via the back door. Banares, 18, beat Leonardo Didal, 9-7, and then beat ex-world titlist Thorsten Hohmann of Germany in a 9-4 victory.

Andam bested Chien-Te Chung of Taiwan, 9-2, after taking a 3-0 lead then ousted compatriot Mario Tolentino via a 9-7 win.