Lee Van Corteza Catches the Last Train to the World Pool Championship

Lee Van Corteza received the trophy and winner's cheque from Mr Erick M. Bartolome and Mr Aristeo G. Puyat

May 30, 2004, Manila: Philippine player Lee Van Corteza became the third champion in the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour after Efren Reyes and Ching Shun Yang. Most of all, his 13-11 victory over Francisco Bustamante also sent him to the World Pool Championship in July as he finished ninth in the Tour Order of Merit by this victory.

Corteza gained the early 4-1 lead in the final but he was soon brought down by series of mistakes committed. World number one player Bustamante then took the opportunity to catch up. It was Django's game after taking his first lead in the final at 6-5 as he took four racks in a row to make it 10-6. But Corteza regained his momentum in the nick of time to tie the game at 10-10. He did not turn back again but to win another two racks to finish this third all-Filipino final in the Asian Tour by 13-11. He brought home US$10,000 and a direct berth in the World Pool Championship 2004.

Earlier today, Corteza and Bustamante beat Young Hwa Jeong of Korea and Chia Ching Wu of Chinese Taipei to book their seats in the final.

Taipei leg finalist Young Hwa Jeong looked to gain consecutive final appearance in the Tour when he started the game with 4-0 lead. But then he made nine pocketing mistakes in the next 10 racks and let Corteza take 10 racks in a row. It was too late for him to win the 15th rack and thus bowed out at 5-11.

In the clash between the legend of the game and a promising rising star, Django and Wu had a tight game as they tied 4-4 after eight racks. But the turning point occurred at 12th rack when Wu missed pocketing the no.2 ball twice and was then never able to catch Django in this semi-final. The 5-11 will be a good lesson to Wu from Django.

The Manila leg is the last chance for the 32 participating players to garner qualifying points towards the World Pool Championships in July. Top 10 on the Tour Order of Merit, Efren Reyes, Warren Kiamco, Francisco Bustamante and Lee Van Corteza from the Philippines, Fong Pang Chao and Ching Shun Yang from Chinese Taipei, Young Hwa Jeongand Shin Young Park from Korea, Satoshi Kawabata from Japan and Alok Kumar from India, will directly qualify into the World Pool Championships. The 2004 World Pool Championship will be held in Taipei from July 10-18, with comprehensive LIVE coverage from STAR Sports.

Adding to the stakes is the total prize money purse of US$250,000 up for grabs on this regional tour which started in Singapore (February 28-29) and features subsequent stops in Ho Chi Minh City (March 13-14), Hong Kong (April 17-18), Taipei (May 7-9) and Manila (May 28-30). The main draw includes 32 top Asian players from 12 countries/ regions.

San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour Final Ranking 2004 (Top 10)
RankNameRepresentingRanking Points
1Efren ReyesPhilippines280
2Warren KiamcoPhilippines160
3Young Hwa JeongKorea150
Fong Pang ChaoChinese Taipei150
5Shin Young ParkKorea140
6Francisco BustamantePhilippines130
Satoshi KawabataJapan130
8Ching Shun YangChinese Taipei120
9Lee Van CortezaPhilippines110
Alok KumarIndia110

Sanctioned by the Asian Pocket Billiard Union, the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour is organized by ESPN STAR Sports' Event Management Group (EMG). San Miguel Beer is the title sponsor for the Tour. Iwan Simonis and Aramith supply the official tablecloth and official balls respectively. STAR Sports is the official broadcaster. The 2004 Manila leg is also supported by Puyat Sports as the local coorganiser and Robinsons Galleria as the official venue provider. The 2004 Tour have five legs in Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Taipei and Manila. Besides total prize money of US$250,000, top 10 on the Tour Order of Merit every year will directly qualify into the World Pool Championships.