Guinness 9 Ball Tour 2008 Makes its way to Genting Highlands

May 29 2008 - The pursuit of pool excellence continues for 24 of Asia's top cue artists as the third leg of the Guinness 9 Ball Tour 2008 gets underway at the magnificent Genting Highlands Resort, Malaysia from tomorrow till 1 June 2008. This marks the Tour's second stop in Malaysia following a successful leg in Penang last month.

Defending Grand Finals champion Jung-Lin Chang, who swept the 2008 Tour's first two legs in Chinese-Taipei and Penang, looks set to lead a heavily favoured Chinese-Taipei contingent in their quest for a repeat of last year's impressive sweep at the annual six-leg event organised by ESPN STAR Sports. Chang, who also won at Genting last year, will be joined by compatriots Chia-Ching Wu (2005 WPA World Pool Champion), Ching-Shun Yang, winner of the Kaohsiung and Singapore legs in the 2007 Tour and 2008 Tour Penang leg runner-up Hung-Hsiang Wang.

Meanwhile, the Philippines, led by recently crowned World Pool Masters champion Alex Pagulayan, will be aiming to finally end its title drought. Eager to lift their first trophy since the all-Filipino sweep in 2006, the Philippine squad has formed a formidable line-up composed of Pagulayan, 2006 DOHA Asian Games Gold Medallist Antonio Gabica, Southeast Asian Games Gold Medallist Marlon Manalo and Chinese-Taipei leg runner-up Joven Bustamante.

Not to be outdone, the local contingent comprising of 2007 Singapore leg finalist Ibrahim Bin Amir and first time participants Mohd Sapawi and Benjamin Lee are cued and ready to thrill the local fans and upset the heavy favourites. Amir and company will use the home ground advantage to their fullest, following a lacklustre showing in Penang.

Players from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam are also expected to perform well and earn valuable ranking points.

The draw conducted today produced some very intriguing matchups with action in the group stage beginning tomorrow at the Genting International Convention Centre.

Man of the moment Jung-Lin Chang seems confident in Group A pitted against India's Sumit Talwar and China's Jian Bo Fu. Over at Group G, Penang leg runner-up Hung-Hsiang Wang is ready to take on little known Widi Harsoyo of Indonesia and Vietnamese dark horse Le Quang Tung. Meanwhile, Filipino rising star Bustamante is raring to get back into the action with Singapore's Bernard Tey and Hong Kong bet Han Hao-Xiang providing explosive opening matchups.

For the local contingent, all three Malaysians are in for a tough group stage battle. Ibrahim bin Amir is bracketed together with Tour veteran and Indonesian number one Ricky Yang and 2006 World Pool Championship semifinalist He-Wen Li from China.

Things will heat up further in Group C as Mohd Sapawi tests his skills against Pagulayan and Ryu Seung-Woo of South Korea who put up a stunning performance in Penang. Finally, Tour first timer Lee will be in for a challenging debut as he begins his Guinness 9 Ball 2008 campaign with two battle scarred warriors in Marlon Manalo and Ching-Shun Yang of Chinese-Taipei.

Mr. Harvey Davis, Senior Director, ESPN STAR Sports Event Management Group added: "We are ecstatic that the Guinness 9 Ball Tour makes its way back to Malaysia. The Tour not only allows the local fans to see Asia's finest pool talents in action, but it also promotes the growth and development of this sport in the region.

We look forward to staging the leg in Genting Highlands and I'm sure we will all be treated to another round of pulse-pounding pool action. I wish all the best for the 24 players competing as they resume the battle for Asian pool supremacy and the bid to qualify for the World Pool Championships."

Ms. Barbara Young, Category Director, International Spirits and Beer, Diageo Asia Pacific, remarked, "Guinness® is pleased to be the title sponsor of the Guinness 9 Ball Tour and we are thrilled to bring back 24 of Asia's greatest cue masters to Malaysia for the second time this year. We look forward to witnessing the best players in the region showcase their skills and compete for top honours and automatic qualification for the WPA World Pool Championship. Guinness® wishes to share the exhilaration of 9 Ball pool with even more Malaysians and give them an opportunity to enjoy the Greatness of Guinness®."

Up for grabs in the Genting Highlands leg is a total prize purse of US$50,000 as well as points to qualify for the Tour's Grand Final in Jakarta, which will feature the Top Ten players in the overall Order of Merit. The winners of each leg will get to earn US$15,000 while the Grand Final Champion will pocket US$36,000.

Following Genting Highlands, the Tour will visit Singapore in July, Guangzhou in September and Jakarta for the Grand Finals in October.