Team World Dominates QC Challenge Day One

Alex Pagulayan was the sole Philippine winner

Mika Immonen bounced back from an early two-rack deficit to edge Dennis Orcollo, 7-6, and continue the visiting team's onslaught against the luckless home squad in the Q.C. Invasion: Quezon City-Philippines vs the World Grand VILLARDS Showdown yesterday at the Trinoma Mall in Quezon City.

The win gave the Team World a 4-1 lead in this race-to-nine duel presented by Senator Manny Villar's Villards: Tulong sa Pagsulong ng Philippine Sports and the Quezon City government led by Mayor Sonny Belmonte.

Only Alex Pagulayan managed to dodge the international selection's juggernaut. The 2004 Filipino world champion squeaked past former World Cup of Pool titlist Fu Jianbo, 7-6, in the last singles match in the opening day of this three-day event organized by the Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines (BMPAP) headed by Atty. Vic Rodriguez and sponsored by Camella Communities with Solar Sports, RPN-9, the Philippine Star and BusinessMirror as media partners.

“I was a bit lucky that I managed to win despite my poor start against the world no.1 player,” said Immonen, who won the lag but found himself trailing by two after the first four racks.

The first stroke of luck for the 38-year-old former world champion from Finland came in the fifth rack, when Orcollo succumbed in their battle of safety shots of the blue-2. Immonen cleaned it up to ignite a 3-0 run that put him in the driver's seat.

The two players protected their own breaks, and for winning the lag, Immonen broke the deciding rack and ran it out for the win that move Team World another step closer to the $40,000 top purse at stake.

“We're happy to be up 4-1. But this is a long way to go, and we know that the Filipinos have a lot of firepower to be able to comeback,” added Immonen, who along with fellow former world titlists Wu Chia-ching and Thorsten Hohmann and reigning World Cup of Pool champ Rodney Morris won over the quartet of Efren “Bata” Reyes, Roberto Gomez, Lee Van Corteza and Orcollo, 7-4, in the team event Tuesday.

Team World's two other victories were courtesy of Yang Ching-shun of Chinese-Taipei, who blasted Ronnie Alcano, 7-5, in a singles match; and the pair of American Charlie Williams and Indian Raj Hundal, who prevailed over the duo of Francisco “Django” Bustamante and Warren Kiamco.

Three more matches were slated late yesterday, among them the doubles pitting the tandem of Reyes and Corteza against the pair of Morris and Hohmann, another singles match featuring Gomez and Wu, and the four-man team event with Pagulayan, Alcano, Bustamante and Kiamco joining forces against Fu, Hundal, Williams and Yang.

Meanwhile, Quezon City Majority Floor Leader Ariel Inton, the chief proponent of the event, announced that the next edition of this dual meet will have bigger prizes.