Orcollo Edges Pagulayan as Guiness Tour Grand Final Begins

Dennis Orcollo

Dennis Orcollo edged countryman Alex Pagulayan, 9 – 7, in Group A at the start of the preliminary round of the Guinness 9 Ball Tour 2008 Grand Final yesterday at the jam-packed Mal Taman Anggrek.

Orcollo, the current WPA world number one, surged ahead, 6 – 4, after capitalizing on Pagulayan's miss on the three-ball in the ninth rack and a run-out in the tenth rack. The two Filipinos played flawless pool in the succeeding racks and merely exchanged run-outs before Orcollo clinched the match in the 16th rack.

"It was hot, but I just had to play my game and not get affected by the heat or the crowd. There's so much at stake to let outside factors bother me," said a sweaty Orcollo in Filipino following his first match.

Orcollo, who won the last leg in Guangzhou, China, was still scheduled to play Hung Hsiang Wang of Chinese Taipei and Ryu Seung Woo of Korea late yesterday evening. Pagulayan was slated to face off against defending Grand Final champion Jung Lin Chang of Chinese Taipei last night.

Meanwhile, current WPA number six Joven Bustamante and former Asian Games gold medalist Antonio Gabica were still playing their respective matches in Group B.

Other early winners include Wang, hometown bet Ricky Yang and Chia Ching Wu of Chinese Taipei. Wang nipped compatriot Chang, 9 – 7, in Group A while Yang demolished Ibrahim Bin Amir of Malaysia, 9 – 4, in Group B. Wu outlasted fellow Taiwanese Ching Shun Yang, 9 – 7, in the other Group match.

Eleven players were divided into two groups and players will play in a single round robin format. The top two players from each group will advance to the semifinals with the final two meeting in the final match tomorrow. The champion will earn the top prize of US$36,000.

The Top Ten of the Tour's Order of Merit following the first five legs automatically qualified for the Grand Final. An additional wild card spot was awarded to Ricky Yang as he was the host country's top ranked player.

Up for grabs in the Grand Final is total prize money of US$72,000, with the winner taking home US$36,000. The Guinness 9 Ball Tour remains the only ranking tour in Asia for players to qualify for the WPA World Pool Championship. The six-city Tour previously had stops in Chinese-Taipei, Penang, Genting Highlands, Singapore, and Guangzhou.