Hohmann Continues Impressive Run In Manila

World Pool Champion Thorsten “The Machine” Hohmann of Germany continued his impressive run on the second day of the LG Flatron “On Cue 2” tournament at Robinson's Galeria shopping mall in Metro Manila with a rousing 7 – 4 triumph over hometown hero Efren “Bata” Reyes and virtually assured himself of a place in the crossover semi finals with three wins against one loss against his Cardiff rival Alex Pagulayan in a 7- 6 cliffhanger.

In the elimination round race to seven, alternate break format each of the top four Filipino players, Reyes, Francisco “Django” Bustamante, Canada-based Alex Pagulayan and newcomer Venancio Tanio who topped a qualifying tournament will meet the Europe – USA foursome once with the top two in each bracket battling it out in the semi finals of the $40,000 four-day tournament.

Aside from Hohmann, the other members of the Europe – USA team are 2001 World Pool Champion Mika Immonen, six-time World Pool Champion Earl “The Pearl” Strickland and Johnny “The Scorpion” Archer who recently stung the opposition to score big back-to-back victories on the US circuit.

Reyes' loss to Hohmann who repeated his victory over “The Magician” last week in the World Pool League semi finals in Warsaw, Poland, was a bitter disappointment to the hometown crowd especially since Reyes started Wednesday's proceedings with a scintillating 7- 5 victory over Strickland. In the last match of the evening Reyes, once again making numerous uncharacteristic errors lost to Immonen 7- 5 and put his chances of making the semi finals in jeopardy with a 1- 2 win-loss card.

Strickland, another of the main attractions of the tournament also suffered back – to - back defeats, losing to Reyes and then getting routed by Bustamante 7- 3 to go down 0 – 2. Both Strickland and Archer who had to change their flight schedule because of the raging fires in California arrived a few hours before the matches began and had to play with cues borrowed from Rodolfo Luat since their baggage had been misplaced and this may well have affected their game although Archer beat Tanio 7- 4 before losing a nerve-wracking clash with Pagulayan 7- 6 for a 1-1 slate.

Reyes jumped to a 2- 0 lead against Strickland before the sometimes temperamental American won two racks in a row to tie the count at 2-2. After Strickland scratched in the sixth rack enabling Reyes, with ball in hand to run out, Reyes thrilled his countrymen by pocketing a couple of balls on the break and easing out in front 5 - 2. Strickland, always a fighter in tough situations, began to get a feel of the table and the borrowed cues and with a stunning shot caromed the 9-ball off the 8 and then capitalized on a Reyes error to once again carom the 9-ball off the 1 to come charging back to within one rack 5-4. Faced with an almost impossible shot on the 1-ball, Reyes scratched and Strickland quickly cleaned up to even things up at 5-5.

Suddenly, it was Strickland's turn to commit a crucial error when he fouled while attempting a thin cut on the 5-ball. Reyes, with a terrific bank shot on the 7 moved to the hill 6-5 and then sealed the victory with an amazing shot on the 1-ball after Strickland whose break is his forte, came up empty on the twelfth rack and gave Reyes a chance to run-out without any trouble.

Bustamante played perhaps the finest pool of the day against Strickland who struggled early in the match while the Filipino, behind an awesome break, great positional pool and remarkable pocketing raced to a 5- 0 lead. Strickland quickly regained his bearings and rattled off three racks in succession, pocketing the balls in rapid-fire fashion. But Bustamante was on a roll and with some unbelievable shots took the next two racks to win 7- 5 and push Strickland to the brink of elimination.

Archer engaged “The Lion” Pagulayan in an entertaining match that looked to go one way, then the other, with the World Pool Championship runner-up eventually edging Archer 7-6. Earlier in the day, Archer was given a momentary scare by newcomer Tanio who on the opening day stunned Immonen 7- 6 before losing to Hohmann 7-4.

Tanio battled Archer to a 4-all standoff before an unforgivable miss on the 1-ball paved the way for Archer to move ahead 6- 4 after which he broke and ran-out to win 7- 4.

The clash between Hohmann and Reyes had some moments of sheer brilliance but it also had its fair share of errors, particularly by Reyes. Hohmann won the lag but Reyes took the opening rack and then came up empty on his break enabling the 24 year old German to even the score at 1-1. Hohmann played a stylish 2-6 combo en route to a 2-1 lead before Reyes had one of his best breaks in a while and after a safety, saw Hohmann foul enabling Reyes to make it 2 – 2. A foul by Reyes while attempting a safety on the 3-ball and a smashing break by Hohmann that pocketed three balls set the table for a casual run-out and a 5-2 lead before Reyes came up empty on his break and Hohmann ran out again for a 6-2 count.

Reyes pulled one back and then had the crowd buzzing with expectation after a “golden break” to make it 6- 4 but Hohmann who has been christened “The Hitman” by Manila TV commentators coolly sank three balls on the break to run out a handsome winner 7-4.

Photo courtesy of Matchroom Sport