Orcollo and Lu Will Clash For China Open Title

Hui Chan Lu


(Shanghai, China)--The Philppines’Dennis Orcollo, one of the world’s best players over the last three years, and Lu Hui Chan, a 31 year old Taiwanese veteran who’s never won an international event as a professional, will meet in the finals of the 2012 China Open Sunday afternoon. 

Both players won tense semi-final matches this morning at the Shanhai Pudong Yuanshen Stadium.

Orcollo’s was up first on the TV table at the ungodly hour of 9:30am against Taiwan’s red hot Chang Yu Lung.  Taking into account how well both players had played all week, in addition to their solid resumes, the match between Orcollo and Chang was definitely a toss up.  

Chang bolted out to a 2-0 lead but then Orcollo caught him at 4-4. Orcollo then took the next rack for a lead he would not relinquish.  The Filipino, though, had to scratch and claw all the way to the end. Orcollo pushed the score to 7-5, then 8-6, and got to within the finish line at 10-7.  Chang wasn’t going away easy, however.

When Orcollo missed a bank on the 2-ball, Chang cleared to make the score 10-8. In the next frame Chang hit a 1-9 combo to quickly pull within one.

With the tension clearly weighing heavy, Orcollo was forced to push out off his break. Chang, though, left his answer showing for the Filipino, who held steady and cleared for a spot in the final.

 “I was so nervous today,” an obviously relieved Orcollo said right after. “But I just tried to calm down and enjoy the game. Chang is a great player and he played good today. I have a lot of experience playing on the TV table and I’ve had a lot of tough matches this week so this helps me with the pressure. For the final I just need to relax, wait for my chances and be aggressive when I find an opening.”

Orcollo also knows that come time for the final, he’ll have an intangible support in his cue case that his opponent surely won’t.

“I just want to say thank you to all my Filipino fans out there and everyone cheering me on. I know they are praying for me to win this tournament and that’s my inspiration. I will do my best to win this today.”

The second semi-final featured Lu taking on the 2011 World 9-ball Champion, Yukio Akakagariyama of Japan.  Both players committed numerous errors during the first half of the match with Lu continuing to hold a slim lead throughout. Down 8-6, Akakagariyama stepped on the gas and won three straight to get his first lead at 9-8.  Lu then grabbed the next two to go up 10-9. A break and run by Yukio sent the match into a sudden death decider.

In a cauldron of nerves and tension, Lu, who came in third here two years ago, got a ball down on the break. He cleared to the 5-ball, but over hit the cue and had terribly difficult position.  He chose a tricky cut and made it, along with the 7 ball by accident. That left the table open and Lu ran out for the victory.

“Mentally I’m better now than I was two years ago,” Lu said through an interpreter. “I practiced for this event for one month so I’m in good shape. It seems I only play well in Taiwan, so if I can win this event, it will be a very big moment for me.” ‘

Based on winning experience, Orcollo would have to be considered the betting favourite in the race to 11 final. But the talented Lu has repeatedly shown terrific fortitude and perseverance born of years of toil at the highest levels of the sport.  If the matches over the previous four days are any indication, the finals will surely be a nervy, taught affair.

The race to 11, alternate break final will begin at 3:30PM Shanghai time. Fans can follow the live scoring at this link: http://live2.my147.com/match_ninegoals.php?id=2&type=ninegoals

The winner of the China Open will receive $40,000. The runner up will take home $20,000.