More Upsets in Manila

Antonio Lining grounded The Rocket

November 28 (Manila) Upsets continued to rock the Café Puro sponsored 1st Philippine Open and Invitational 9-Ball Championships at the Octagon Hall of Robinson's Galeria Shopping Mall along busy Ortigas Avenue, Metro Manila when Alex Pagulayan and Rodney Morris were ousted by Filipinos Antonio Gabica and Antonio Lining in the round of 32 where earlier Earl Strickland and Ralf Souquet also fell victims to comparatively unknown hometown players.

Pagulayan, the Canada-based Filipino who was runner-up to Thorsten Hohmann in the World Pool Championships in Cardiff and won the Canadian Open 9-Ball Championship as well as three Joss Tour titles was beaten 9-7 by Gabica, the soft-spoken Filipino who has played in the shadow of such greats as Efren "Bata" Reyes and Francisco "Django" Bustamante for years.

Gabica played a solid game to get the better of the fun-loving Pagulayan who, despite his defeat, was a fan favorite.

Lining, the lefty who can often be a threat when least expected, played particularly well to beat "The Rocket" Rodney Morris who was making his first appearance in Manila, a hotbed of pool in Asia. Morris who finished fourth in the US Open and second in the Brunswick Players Championship losing to Johnny Archer in the finals just couldn't get going against Lining who won comfortably, 9-6 to move into the round of sixteen where he will meet countryman Bustamante who is a heavy favorite.

Max Eberle winner of the 1st Total Offense Pool Event in Northridge, California battled World Pool Champion Hohmann on even terms much of the way but the German ace had that little extra and got the rolls to win a close match 9-7.

Gandy Valle, winner of the 8-ball doubles gold medal in the Asian Games in Bangkok in 1998 stunned Japanese ace Kunihiko Takahashi 9-5 while 2000 World Pool Champion Fong Pang Chao, "The Cold Faced Killer" was beaten by fellow Chinese-Taipei star Yang Ching-Shun in a classic match 9-8.

2001 World Pool Champion Mika Immonen who has made Manila his second home and has a popular bar in the plush financial district of Makati was clearly at home in a 9-3 thrashing of Pei-Wei Chang of Chinese-Taipei while South Korea's Busan Asian Games 2002 gold medallist Jeong Young Hwa defeated lanky Ronnie Alcano, a star of the Joss North East Tour, 9-5.

Earlier, last year's International Billiard Congress "Player of the Year" Ralf Souquet was the victim of a monumental upset by unknown Rene Cruz who had worked his way into the 32 player tournament proper through the loser's bracket in the qualifying tournament. Cruz won 9-3 although Souquet was a little unlucky and didn't get the balls to roll his way.

Temperamental American ace Strickland looked completely disinterested in a 9-1 shellacking at the hands of Ramil Gallego who played some great pool, often breaking and running out the racks in style in contrast to Strickland who simply couldn't get the feel of the table and failed to pocket a ball on his first three breaks in the alternate break format.

The top prize in the tournament, one of the biggest to be staged in Manila through the efforts of pool patron Aristeo "Putch" Puyat is $20,000 while the runner-up will get $10,000. Total prize money is $64,000.

Report courtesy of Ronnie Nathanielsz - Viva Sports, Photo courtesy of IBC Tour.