Taiwanese bets win first two Philippine Open Qualifiers

Chinese Taipei dominated the first day of the qualifying event, winning the first two spots for the main draw of the Philippine Open Pool Championships late Thursday at the Star Billiards Center.

Yu Lung Chang and Che Wei Fu defeated their respective finals opponents in convincing fashion to join 54 others already seeded in the main draw of the Philippine Open. a world-ranking event of  the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA).

Chang saved his best for last and outplayed Joven Bustamante of the Philippines, 9-2, in Qualifier No. 1.

Fu, semi-finalist in the 2006 World Pool Championship in Manila, scuttled Mario Tolentino by the same score.

From a 1-1 standoff, Chang, winner of the China Open last year, was able to take eight of the last nine racks. Making up for his dry break in the 11th rack, the Taiwanese bet took advantage of a miscalculated safety shot by Bustamante on the 5-ball and cleaned up the table.

“I've been idle for quite some time because I'm busy with commercial and residential apartment business,” said Bustamante, third place finisher in the World 8-Ball Championship won by Filipino Ronnie Alcano in 2007.

Despite the lack of preparation in this tournament, Bustamante was able to squeeze his way into the final round by beating Chang's compatriot,  former world pool runner-up Pei Wei Chang, in the semifinal round.

Fully rested after making his way to the semifinal round with a convincing win over Emille Martinez, Fu used his advantage over the worn down Tolentino, who needed to hurdle Rodrigo Geronimo in a hill-hill match, 7-6, in the semis.

From a slim 3-2 advantage, Fu took the next five racks and pounced on every miscue made by Tolentino.

Tolentino had several chances, the last one was when his Taiwanese foe scratched on the break in the 11th rack. The Filipino cue artist sank the 1-ball, but missed on the 2-ball, enabling Fu to get back quickly at the table and wrap up the match to make it an early double celebration for the victorious Taiwanese bets.     

Some 100 male and female players from all over Asia and the Philippines are scheduled to join in the qualifying stage of the Philippine Open. They will compete for 14 spots (10 male and 4 female) in the main tournament, which will take place from April 7-11 at the SM Megamall Megatrade Hall in Mandaluyong City.

Eight other men's qualifiers are scheduled from April 1 to 4.

The women's qualifiers are scheduled to be staged on April 4 and 5, with over 30 players competing for four spots.