Mike Takayama Reaches Final Four in Cebu 9-Ball Open

MANILA, PHILIPPINES---Filipino rising star Mike "Choke" Takayama barely had a year of pool experience when the prestigious Cebu Open started in 2002.

He's a semifinalist in the event this year.

The 18-year-old Bugsy promotions stalwart stunned lone Cebuano survivor Bebien Jabien (10-3) in the quarter-final round to assure himself of a P20,000 paycheck yesterday at the at the SM City Cebu Trade Hall in Cebu City with the champion taking home P160,000.

"I still cant believe that I can make it to the final four but thank God," said Takayama, who learned to play pool five years ago. "I just play my very best." added Takayama who needed to win a grueling qualifying round to make it to the main draw.

Takayama, who beat former Southeast Asian Games medallist and Jakarta based Victor Arpilleda (9-3) in the "Sweet 16" will face top seed Alex "The Lion" Pagulayan in the final four.

Takayama also the 2006 Solar Fil-9 Ball Open semi-finalist who victimized Japanese Yuse Kuruda, 2006 Asian 9-ball tour champion Gandy Valle, 2007 BCA enjoypool.com ruler Dennis Orcollo and Pagulayan.

The 29-years-old Pagulayan on the other hand, the 2004 World 9-ball champion and 2005 US Open champion, defeated unheralded Reymar Naraiso (9-2) in the round-of-16 and 2007 Battle of Scandinavia 9-ball winner Roberto "Pinoy Superman" Gomez (10-4) in the round-of-8, respectively.

Meanwhile, 2004 Fil-9 Ball Open ruler Antonio "Ga-Ga" Gabica and reigning national open champion Lee Vann "The Slayer" Corteza hurdled their respective rivals to complete the cast in final four.

The 38-years-old Gabica, a former Cebu Open winner defeated 2007 Puyat 9-ball champ Ricky "Bai" Zerna (9-3) and 2006 POC Olympic Festival runner-up Johann "Bubwit" Chua (10-4), in order to arrange a final four showdown with the 28-years-old Corteza, top ace of Negros Billiard Stable (NBS), winner over Romeo Silvano (9-3) and Reynaldo Campana (10-5), respectively.