Rodolfo Luat Wins Smb Asian 9-Ball Tour In Kaohsiung

Rodolfo Luat

FILIPINO RODOLFO LUAT won the Kaohsuing leg and kept the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball tour crown in the hands of the Pinoys after beating "The Assassin" two-time world junior champion Hui-Kai Hsia, 11-7, Sunday at the Kaohsuing Business Exhibition Hall in Kaohsuing, Taiwan.

The win buoyed the hearts of the Filipinos, who saw their top bets Efren "Bata" Reyes and Francisco "Django" Bustamante crash out of the tournament.

Reyes was ousted by Masaaki Tanaka of Japan, 6-9, late Friday and failed to advance in next round after losing in the point system in the group stage of the first round.

Bosom buddy Bustamante bowed to Hsia, 11-4, in the final-four to prevent an all Filipino Finals. Luat, on the other hand, nipped Indonesian Muhammad Zulfikri, 11-8, to arrange a titular showdown with Hsia, whom he beat two years ago, in a 9-2 count, in this country when Filipino-Canadian Alex "The Lion" Pagulayan won the 2004 WPC in Taiwan.

"Boy Samson" is a moniker he has carried since the 70's because of his "Samson" break, who made his maiden appearance in Asia's premier 9-Ball tournament, won five of sixth racks en route to winning the leg and claiming the $10,000 top prize

Luat, from Angeles City, Pampanga, who is scheduled to celebrate his 49th birthday on December 12, took an early 6-2 lead in the race-to-11 championships round.

RP billiards patron Aristeo "Putch" Puyat congratulated Luat's big win.

Puyat, acknowledged God Father of Philippines billiards, is hoping that the Filipino cue artists will win the fourth and final leg in Jakarta, Indonesia next month.

"A possible sweep?." he added.

Luat, nailed his first Asian 9-ball crown, and sealed the three-feat for the Filipino pool wizards after surviving against talented Taiwanese Hsia.

It shall be recalled that Luat finished in a tie for 7th to 18th place in the recently concluded International Pool Tour 8-ball shoot-out in Las Vegas, Nevada which won by German ace Thorsten "The Hitman" Hohmann.

"I am just lucky because at the end the ball is in my side." Luat told to this writer in an oversees call.

Filipino billiards master Efren "Bata" Reyes (Vietnam) and Ramil "Bebeng" Gallego (Bangkok) topped the first two-legs of this four-cities annual event where the fourth and final leg goes to Jakarta, Indonesia next month.

The Asian Tour is the only ranking tour in Asia for players to qualify to the World Pool Championship. The top ten finishers at the end of this year's Tour will automatically enter the World Pool Championships. A total money purse of $40,000 is up for grabs in each leg of the event.

Now in its fourth year, the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour is offering a top prize of US$10,000 for the champion of each leg and US$5,000 to the runner-up.

Last year, Filipinos won three of the four legs: Gandy Valle (Singapore), Reyes (Jakarta) and former AZ Billiards Rookie of the Year Ronato "Ronnie Calamba" Alcano (Manila).

The San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour is sanctioned by the Asian Pocket Billiard Union and organized by ESPN STAR Sports' Event Management Group (EMG). San Miguel Beer is the title sponsor for the Tour. Iwan Simonis and Aramith supply the official tablecloth and official balls respectively. Brunswick Metro is the official pool table. STAR Sports is the official broadcaster.

Besides the total prize money of US$160,000, the top 10 players on the Tour Order of Merit every year will directly qualify into the World Pool Championship.

For more information on the Tour, please check out For the latest schedules and program information on ESPN STAR Sports, catch us on the net at

File photo courtesy of Diana Hoppe - Pool Pics by Hoppe