Magician wins in Manila

Efren Reyes

It was a thrilling day of world-class pool action that drew in crowds of avid Filipino billiard fans despite the rains at the final day of competition of the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour, Manila Leg.

Old contenders met new opponents at this exciting leg of the Tour with Korea's Park Shin Young becoming the first pool player who was not from either Chinese Taipei or the Philippines to reach the semi-finals. Yang, the 33rd world ranked player beat 12th world ranked and two-time World Pool Champion Chao Fong Pang from Chinese Taipei 9-4 during the quarter final match.

At the fourth quarter final match today, 4th world ranked player Efren "Bata" Reyes from the Philippines won 9-4 against compatriot Antonio Lining to proceed to the semi-finals against Korea's Park Shin Young.

In what proved to be one of the most exciting matches of the Manila Leg of the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour, world no. 8 Filipino Warren Kiamco surged from a score of 1-5 to tie at 6-6 then to 10-8 before tying again at 10 all and 11 all before pocketing the win at 13-11 against world no. 11 Chinese Taipei's Lee Kun Fang in a race to 13 racks. Lee had the break on the 24th rack of the two and a half hour match, when he missed the eight ball, giving Kiamco the opportunity to win the rack and the match.

Compatriot Efren Reyes had an easier time racing to 11 racks when he won 11-3 against Korean Park Shin Young at the semi-finals to compete against Warren Kiamco. Previous to this match, the two competed against each other in a rotation game at the 2001 SEA Games where Kiamco won 5-4 racks.

It was appropriately an all-Filipino finals to the delight of the proud home crowd. Reyes took an early lead and held on to it for the duration of the one hour and 15-minute match finishing at 11-1. Although it was considered anti-climactic after the nail-biting match between Kiamco and Lee, both Reyes and Kiamco were unabashedly pleased to lead the ten pool players who qualified to compete in Cardiff.

After his win, Reyes said he felt luck was on his side. "I felt like all the billiard balls were on my side as they fell into the pockets one by one."

In interviews with the media after the finals, Kiamco expressed his admiration for Reyes. "He is obviously the better player. Although I must say I felt more pressure in the semi-final match with Lee, than at the finals with Bata."

Reyes leads the team of qualifiers from the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour who will compete at the World Pool Championships in Cardiff, UK this July. The top ten are Efren Reyes (Philippines), Warrren Kiamco (Philippines), Yang Ching Shun (Chinese Taipei), Lee Kun Fang (Chinese Taipei), Park Shin Young (Korea), Antoniio Lining (Philippines), Francisco Bustamante (Philippines), Chao Fong Pang (Chinese Taipei), Jeong Young Hwa (Korea), and Akikumo Toshikawa (Japan).

The San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour, Manila is sponsored by San Miguel, organized by ESPN STAR Sports and sanctioned by the Asian Pocket Billiard Union. Iwan Simonis is the Official Table Cloth, Aramith is the Official Pool Balls. Mandarin Oriental is the Official Hotel.

Official websites are www.espnstar.com and www.asian9-balltour.com.

Photo courtesy of ESPN STAR Sports

Additional Coverage:
www.asian9-balltour.com | Day one report