Gabica Sets Sights on World Pool Championship Crown after winning his second SMB RP 9-Ball Open

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Today the Philippines, tomorrow the world. Antonio "Ga'Ga" Gabica, the country's most underrated player wants to conquer them all.

The power-breaking cue artist showed the form that he displayed three years ago by beating fellow Bugsy stablemate and current WPA 9-ball and WPA 8-ball champion Ronato "Volcano" Alcano (15-9) in the finals on his way to a second San Miguel Beer Philippine 9-Ball Open crown late Sunday at the Decagon Hall in Silvercity Mall, Julia Vargas Avenue in Ortigas Center enroute the top purse P500,000.

Two balls on the break in the final rack led to the yellow no.1 ball on a tough bank shot, followed a 2-9 combination for the 15-9 victory.

Local benefactor/businessman Perry Mariano commented on his ward, "Ga-Ga (Antonio Gabica) is the most underrated player today,"

Gabica's road to the race-to-15, alternate break finals came with wins over 2006 SMB Asian 9-ball tour leg winner Gandy "Sapsal" Valle (9-7), Alcano (9-3), 2007 BCA 9-ball champion Dennis "Robocop" Orcollo (9-8), before losing to two-time defending champion Francisco "Django" Bustamante (9-7) in the fourth match of winner's brackets on Saturday. Gabica then beat Carlo "Cool" Biado (9-6) in the loser's brackets followed by a win over pool maestro Efren "Bata" Reyes (13-10) in the cross-over semi-final round Sunday afternoon before beating Alcano (15-9).

Alcano, on the other hand beat Eduardo Saracho (9-3) in the opener before yielding to Gabica (9-3). Alcano then dominated the loser' brackets by trouncing 2004 World 9-Ball Champion Alex Pagulayan (9-6), Russian Petiza (9-7), Warren Kiamco (9-7), current national open title-holder Lee Vann Corteza (9-6), and Panfilo Damuag (9-6) then ousted Bustamante (13-12) in the cross-over semis before bowing to Gabica.

In the 2004 inaugural leg of RP 9-Ball Open, Gabica beat Orcollo (17-6) in the finals plus obtaining a world record's 11 consecutive racks beating 10's straight racks of former world 9-ball champion American Earl "The Pearl" Strickland.

It was Gabica's first major title this year after two runner-up finishes here and abroad.

Last March 2-4, the 35-year-old Lapu-Lapu City ace Gabica settled for a runner-up finish behind eventual winner compatriot Warren "Warrior" Kiamco in the 2007 US Bar Table 9-Ball Championships in Sands Regency Hotel in Reno, Nevada and contented another second place finish in the 2007 Cebu 9-Ball Open Challenge last July which was won by 2004 World 9-ball champion Alex "The Lion" Pagulayan.

But Gabica is still one hungry soul. "It is better if I won a world championship but it's ok to win RP 9-ball Open because all the big guns participated in this event in the likes of Efren (Reyes) and Django (Bustamante) who miss to play in the 2004 inauguration edition ," Gabica said after the match.

"But first I need to qualify in the eliminations round for the WPC event," Gabica added, who bagged the gold medal in the 9-ball competition and settled for silver in the 8-ball competition in the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.

The world championship of 9-ball will be staged again for the second consecutive times in the country organizing by Yen Makabenta's Raya Sports group on November 3 to 11 at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.

"The Philippine Open Its a nice warm-up event before WPC." He also needed to warm up before frustrating Alcano in the finals of the double elimination P1.3-million tournament organized by Solar Sports in close cooperation with Puyat Sports and supported by San Miguel Beer.

Gabica dominated the entire match against Alcano from taking a 3-0 commanding lead to 4-2, 6-4 and 7-6 in this race-to-15, alternate break format.

A break and run by Gabica in the 18th rack gave him a two rack advantage (10-8) and a 3rd dry break by Alcano in the 19th rack allowed Gabica to seize an 11-8 lead before Gabica's fourth break and run-out gave him a 12-8 lead.

A second golden break by Gabica in the 22nd rack put him up a formidable 13-9 lead, and Alcano's fourth dry break in the 23rd rack led Gabica to reach the hill (14-9).

Before taking on the rest of the world, Gabica will first test the local field when the country's first ever San Miguel Corporation (SMC) Scotch Doubles 10-ball event gets underway on September 19, 20 and 21 at the Elbowroom/ Metro Walk in Pasig City.

He is also scheduled to compete in the 32nd Annual U.S. Open 9-Ball on October 14 - October 20 at the beautiful Chesapeake Conference Center, in Chesapeake Virginia then fly back home for the P2 million prize fund Manny Pacquiao International 9-Ball Open on Oct. 24 to 27 at the Hobbies of Asia Bldg. in Macapagal Avenue in Pasay City with the winner taking away the whopping top prize money of P1 million.