Rising Stars in Philippine Open 9-Ball Semis

Ronnie Alcano

Four of the country's rising stars have entered the semi finals of the Philippine Open 9-Ball Championship sponsored by Motolite and played at the Casino Filipino amphitheater near the airport in Paranaque with Ramil Gallego facing Dennis Orcullo and lanky Ronnie Alcano going up against Antonio Gabica in the race to 11 semi final battles with a winner breaks format.

The nationwide tournament which saw 64 players enter the final phase in Manila is sponsored by Solar Sports and telecast "live" on the Solar Sports cable channel as well as on RPN 9 with the finals scheduled for late Friday. The winner will pocket P500,000 (approximately $9000), the runner up gets P200,000 while the losing semi finalists will each earn P100,000. Chosen the Pioneer Epoxy "Most Promising Player" was 19 year old Russian Teliza who was promptly recruited into the Philippine snooker pool for the 2005 Southeast Asian Games.

32 year old Gabica who was a semi finalist in the Tokyo Open was outstanding among the four semi finalists with an 11-1 shellacking of Aladdin Duloan. The soft-spoken Gabica whose break was devastating ran out rack after rack in a near flawless display as Duloan hardly visited the table and was forced to sit and watch helplessly as Gabica put on a clinic. He will play Alcano who has been campaigning in the US winning five Joss NE Tour tournaments and was named "Rookie of the Year." The 32 year old Alcano moved into the semis with a comfortable 11-7 victory over Roberto Dy.

Gallego, the 38 year old veteran who was the 2003 Touhoku Open Champion and runner-up in the Japan Open last year played some excellent pool to oust Warren Kiamco who had three runner-up finishes in the prestigious San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour 11-6 and will face flashy Dennis "Surigao" Orcullo, the Tohoko Open champion who ousted 1998 Asian Games gold medallist Gandy Valle, 11-5. Valle had earlier beaten Ring Magazine featherweight boxing champion Manny Pacquiao 9-4 after Pacquiao got off to an early 3-0 lead but couldn't sustain his momentum after a delay of some 15 minutes due to problems with the lights at the venue.

Interestingly, the favorite player of all four semi finalists is Efren "Bata" Reyes, acknowledged as the greatest pool player of all-time and referred to on the international circuit as "The Magician."