Luat Takes Charge In Kaohsiung Leg Of Asian 9-Ball Tour

Rodolfo Luat

Veteran campaigner Rodolfo "Boy Samson" Luat defeated local bet Wang Hung-Hsiang, 9-3, victory in Group 6 to take charge the five man Team Philippines at start of the third-leg of the 2006 San Miguel Beer Asian 9-Ball Tour yesterday at the Kaohsiung Business Exhibition Center in Taiwan.

Luat, who hails from Angeles City, Pampanga playing under the auspices of BSCP president Ernie Fajardo arrived in Kaohsiung Thursday afternoon after a grueling stop-over trip back to Manila following his IPT 8-Ball stint in Las Vegas.

Eventhough he was visibly tired, the Filipino delivered a remarkable performance, taking the first two racks of the opening match and establishing an early advantage over his Taiwanese rival.

Wang, a semifinalist in this year's Ho Chi Minh leg, managed to score a rack run in the 3 rd to open up his game. But the momentum clearly was not on his side as he failed to sink the yellow one ball in the very next rack after a poor safety from Luat. Wang then missed on the one ball again in the 5 th after delivering a solid break allowing the Filipino cue artist to gain even more advantage.

The two players then traded racks until the 10 th where Luat capitalized on an exposed safety on the green 7 by Wang. From that point on, it was all downhill for the Taiwan native as Luat claimed the last three racks to earn his first victory for the tour.

"I knew Wang is a very good player so I saw that I had to perform my best and win my first match to stand a chance in qualifying for the next round. Hopefully I won't have a hard time with my next match. I'm sure Wang will try to defeat his next opponent to gain points for the tournament that's why it was crucial for me to post an overwhelming win against him." said Luat after his victory.

Luat needed to triumph over Ricky Yang to assure himself a place in the quarterfinals. He was set to take on the Indonesian player later in the afternoon.

Four other Filipinos, headed by first leg champion Efren "Bata" Reyes, were waiting to take on separate foes as of press time. Reyes was going to clash with another local bet, Nien Rong-Chi over in Group 3 while Francisco "Django" Bustamante was going to battle Thai bet Amnuayporn Chotipong in Group 2. Ramil Gallego, the 2006 Bangkok leg winner was scheduled to take on Chan Keng-kwang of Singapore over in Group 1 and Gandy Valle was going to test the skills of defending tour champion Yang Ching-Shun.

Last year saw Taiwanese Yang Ching Shun claim the Kaohsiung leg and finish runner-up in two other legs. Filipinos won the other three legs: Gandy Valle (Singapore), Reyes (Jakarta) and Ronato Alcano (Manila).

This marks the second time that Kaohsiung will host a leg of the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball. At this crucial third leg of 2006, the host country is represented by Chao Fong-pang, Yang Chin-shun, Wu Chai-ching, Wang Hung-hsiang, Nien Rong-chih and Hsia Hui-kai.

Competition will start at 12:00 (local time) on August 4, 13:00 on August 5 and August 6. Admission to the competition venue is free and fans of the sport are invited to witness the 9-ball drama unfold at the Kaohsiung Business Exhibition Center.

STAR Sports will air the matches LIVE on August 4 at 18.00- 22.30 for the preliminaries, 13.00-19.00 for the Quarterfinals on August 5 and 13.00-17.30 for the Semifinals and the Final match on August 6.

The Tour is the only ranking tour in Asia for players to qualify to the World Pool Championship. The top ten finishers in the San Miguel Asian 9-ball Tour Order of Merit will automatically enter the 2006 World Pool Championship in November. Adding to the stakes will be a total tour prize money purse of $160,000 up for grabs in the four legs of the event.

The champion of each leg will earn the top prize of US$10,000 while the runner-up will settle for US$5,000. Aside from Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok and Taiwan, the tour will also make a stop in Jakarta, Indonesia for its final leg.

This year promises to be more exciting as the tour will follow a new format. The main draw of 24 players will be divided into eight groups and they will compete in a single round robin format for the group stage with the top eight players advancing to the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals onwards will follow a single game knockout format. There will be alternate breaks with the group stage and quarterfinals following a race to 9, while the semifinals and the finals will be a race to 11. In the semis and finals, a player must win by two clear racks up to a maximum of race to 13.

For more information on the Tour, please check out . For the latest schedules and program information on ESPN STAR Sports, catch us on the net at

The San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour is sanctioned by the Asian Pocket Billiard Union and organized by ESPN STAR Sports' Event Management Group (EMG) and the Kaohsiung City Government with the assistance of the Kaohsiung City Government Information Office & Education Bureau and the Kaohsiung City Billiard Committee. San Miguel Beer is the title sponsor for the Tour. Iwan Simonis and Aramith supply the official tablecloth and official balls respectively. Brunswick Metro is the official pool table. Han-Hsien International Hotel is the official partner hotel. STAR Sports is the official broadcaster.