Pin Yi Ko Wins Subic Crown

Pin Yi Ko (File photo courtesy of Matchroom Sport)

Olongapo City – Pin Yi Ko lived up to his No. 1 seeding by winning the Subic-Olongapo Open Pool Championship at the Olongapo City Convention Center Thursday night.

Ko beat compatriot Che Wei Fu in a hill-hill thriller featuring several lead changes and giving both players a chance to take the match in the final rack.

Fu, now ranked No. 1 in Chinese Taipei following the official ban on former double world champion Chia Ching Wu by the Asian Pocket Billiards Union (APBU), dictated the early pace of the match. He led 7-5, but the advantage was wiped out quickly by a spirited charge from his young compatriot.

A five-rack run by the two-time World Junior champion got him back on track and in firm control of the match as he led 10-7. But Fu was not done.

The Taiwanese took three racks in a row to knot the score at 10-10. And then he had a makeable but difficult runout on the 21st rack after his break. His position play on the 3-ball misfired, however, and he left Ko an open table after his kick shot.

Ko calmly ran out the table with precision potting and accurate position play – to the delight of the capacity crowd.    

For his feat, the Taiwanese, who will only turn 20 this year, took home the first prize money of $10,000 and the champion's trophy donated by Sen. Richard Gordon. He also got a seat in the Philippine Open Pool Championship scheduled on May 26-31 at SM Megamall in Metro Manila.
“We know each other very well because we have played many times in Taiwan,” said Ko thru his interpreter Yanick Po. “There were times when I thought I was going to lose the match, but I was just lucky to survive this game.”

The Taiwanese bets had to come from the losers' bracket in order to get to the final after losses to Filipinos the previous day. Ko was beaten by Mario Tolentino 6-9. And Fu had to scramble for a semifinal spot after being beaten by Leonardo Didal 3-9.

In the crossover semifinals, however, the duo got their revenge. Fu disposed of Tolentino in the first semifinal 9-4. And Ko finished off Didal handily, 9-1.

The best performance among Filipinos who competed in Day Three came from Elvis Calasang, who came back from an 0-5 deficit against Ko to knot the count at 5-all. On the 15th rack, however, he muffed a shot on 10-ball that cost him the match against Ko.     

Calasang finished tied for fifth and sixth along with fellow Filipino Arnel Bautista.