RP Pool Stars Seek Redemption

Ching Shun Yang

Following their disappointing performance in the third leg of the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour in the bustling southern Taiwan city of Kaohsiung where none of the superstars got beyond the quarter finals, the Filipinos are out to seek redemption in the fourth and final stop in Manila at Robinson's Galeria Trade Hall, 4th level from June 3-5.

Last year's world No. 1 ranked Francisco 'Django' Bustamante who was ousted by unheralded Hong Kong snooker player Chi Wai Au in the quarter finals 9-7 after the Filipino blew a 7-3 lead in a maze of errors said he appeared to be cursed just when he appeared ready to break his jinx on the tour. Lanky Ronnie Alcano who played the best pool among the Filipinos but lost out to eventual winner and hometown favorite Ching Shun Yang in a brilliantly played quarter final showdown kept Philippine hopes alive after Efren 'Bata' Reyes, first tour winner Gandy Valle, veteran Leonardi Andam and Christopher Bombita were eliminated early.

Playing before hometown fans who are certain to give them a boost, Reyes and company hope to regain the form that enabled them to dominate the tour over the past three years and virtually holding their fiercest rivals from Chinese-Taipei in check. But they will once again face the sensational 'Son of Pool' Ching Shun Yang who, with some moments of brilliance laced with a fair share of luck defeated upset-conscious Chi Wai Au of Hong Kong who barged into the finals with a stunning victory over former World Pool Champion Kunihiko Takahashi of Japan in the semi finals after ousting last year's World Pool Championship runner-up Pei Wei Chang in a 9-8 cliffhanger in the quarter finals.

Yang who won his third San Miguel Asian 9-Ball title in three years and pocketed the top prize of $10,000 was never in trouble from the very start of the tournament and had no major problems in the semi finals where he defeated Japanese lefty Satoshi Kawabata. With his win Yang lifted the spirits of his hometown fans as well as the organizers who, at one point feared that the Taiwanese stars would follow the Filipinos out of the finals which would have been a minor disaster in this hotbed of pool where the World Pool Championships will be staged in July.