Manalo Gets Chance To Avenge Loss To Hohmann

Marlon Manalo

"Marvelous" Marlon Manalo gets a chance to avenge his heartbreaking 8-7 loss to Thomas Hohmann in the IPT Tour North American Open 8-Ball Championship finals when they compete in the $50,000 winner-take-all "International Challenge of Champions."

Manalo, in an overseas telephone conversation with Viva Sports/Manila Standard Today said he was looking forward to the tournament on August 9-10 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.

The soft-spoken 30 year old Manalo will also try to duplicate the feats of his pool idols, Efren "Bata" Reyes who won the "Challenge of Champions" in 2002 and Francisco "Django" Bustaman who won the title one year later. Reyes beat former World Pool Champion Mika Immonen in a nerve-wracking one rack sudden death playoff after they each won one race-to-five set. Bustamante repeated the feat by defeating Canadian 9-ball champion John Horsfall also in a sudden death, one rack playoff by winning the lag, breaking and running out to seal the deal.

The eight international champions invited to the sudden-death shootout in what is regarded as a pressure-cooker format include US-based Filipino Santos Sambajon, defending champion Fong Pang Chao of Taiwan, Ralf Souquet, Niels Feijen and Alex Lely of the Netherlands and American Johnny Archer.

Manalo who won $99,000 for his second place finish in the IPT Tour 8-Ball finals at the fabulous Venetian Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas is among the favorites in the event which is 9-ball.

The eight players are so evenly matched that any one player can beat the other seven on a given day. The format is the most demanding test of 9-ball skill in the sport. The matches are two sets each, race to five with a one game sudden death tie-break in case of tied sets. The 9-ball does not count on the break and to win a game the 9-ball is a called shot meaning a player has to designate a pocket.