Manalo Downs Hohmann To Enter Final Four

Marlon Manalo

MANDALUYONG CITY, PHILIPPINES---Hometown favorite Marlon Manalo bested German ace Thorsten Hohmann in a duel of the undefeated in Day 4 of the Mandaluyong Mayor's Cup, and booked himself a seat in the Final Four of the inaugural event of the Philippine Pool Tour.

The exciting match went down to the last rack and the last ball before it was settled with Manalo on top, 9-8. He sealed the deal with a crafty safety play on the four ball. Although Hohmann managed to hit the 4-ball, he left Manalo an open shot, which he promptly turned into a runout.

The victory was a revenge of sorts for the guy they call "Marvelous". In 2006, he met and lost to Hohmann in the finals of the IPT North America 8-Ball Championship – also a hill-hill thriller.

The Mandaluyong field which started with 64 players was reduced Friday night to eight players – two in the winners' bracket, and six in the losers' bracket.

The other big winner on Day 4 was Antonio Gabica, reigning 2007 San Miguel Philippine Open champion. He downed another Filipino standout, Mario Tolentino, by the score of 9-5.

Trailing 3-1, Gabica came storming back by taking five straight racks before Tolentino could take another rack. From there, Gabica coasted to the finish line.

Hohmann and Tolentino are not out of the hunt. They now move to the losers bracket in Day 5, where they will try to book themselves seats in the Final Four.

On the losers' bracket, Chien-Te Chung of Taiwan remained in contention. He won three times yesterday, besting James Al Ortega (9-5), Junbert Ogang (9-5), and Kenji Taguchi of Japan (9-2).

18-year-old Jerico Banares, reigning Philippine Junior Champion continued to impress pool aficionados and the media. In a match between a junior and a senior, he downed 58-year-old Gerry Watson of Canada, 9-6, to book himself a place in the last eight.

"Who is this guy?" Watson declared with good humor afterwards. "He didn't miss a shot!"

Leonardo Didal took perhaps the biggest scalp in the tournament. He ousted Johnny Archer of the United States, 9-7. He scored two other victories: against Gilbert Carbonera 9-5, and against Tomoo Tanaka of Japan, 9-5,

The final name in the Last Eight is talented veteran Leonardo Andam. He began Day 4 with a nail-biting thriller against Raymond Faraon (9-8), and then mowed down Courtney Symons of England (9-4) and Allan Soliman (9-2).

The six players in the Losers Bracket – Thorsten Hohmann, Mario Tolentino, Chien-Te Chung, Jerico Banares, Leonardo Didal and Leonardo Andam – will see action Saturday (May 10) to decide who will be the two players to enter the Final Four in Sunday's finale. Marlon Bernardino