Valle is Villar Cup Cebu Leg Champion

Gandy Valle

CEBU CITY – Gandy Valle finally solved the Lion code and then destroyed the Robocop to end a long title drought and crown himself champion of the First Senate President Manny Villar Cup Cebu Leg yesterday before a jampacked crowd at the Trade Hall of SM City Cebu.

The 31-year-old former Asian Games gold medalist, who had to recover from an opening round loss and in sickbay, defeated Alex “the Lion” Pagulayan, 9-4, in the semifinals – the first time he won over the former world champion – before continuing his surge to upend current world no.1 Dennis “Robocop” Orcollo, 11-5, in the finals.

“Sa wakas!” screamed Valle after pocketing the 9-ball in the 16th rack, which clinched him the prestigious Villar Cup and the P400,000 top prize at stake in this topnotch event event presented by Villards: Tulong sa Pagsulong ng Philippine Sports, in partnership with the Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines (BMPAP) and sponsored by Camella Communities.

“It's been so long since I won a major title, and I'm very happy and proud to finally win a tournament this big,” added the stalwart of the star-studded Bugsy Promotions of businessman Perry Mariano.

“And to do it by beating a world champ and a world no.1 make its doubly – if not hundred times – sweet.”

Valle, who was a semifinalist in the opening leg of this island-hopping series last month in StarMall Alabang, made it to the finals despite losing his opening round match against little-known Manolo Tanasas, 9-3. He bounced back from the losers' bracket by beating former world juniors campaigner Rene Mar David, 9-5, and another rising star Jharome Pena, 9-5, in a match where he had to endure a severe headache, to barge into the knockout stage.

There, he opened his bid by dismantling hometown bet Achilles Navarra, 9-1, then evaded the upset ax of Bugsy stablemate Mike Takayama with a hard-earned 9-7 win, before trouncing another Bugsy boy Carlo Biado, 9-4, to set up a meeting with Pagulayan, who he had not beaten in their first four meetings.

Orcollo, on the other hand, had a relatively easy path to the last dance. He started his quest with a 9-2 demolition of Davao qualifier Danny Otacan, then slipped past Ricky Zerna, manhandled John Rebong, 9-4, Jech Limen, 9-5, and reigning national champion Lee Van Corteza, 9-3, before facing – and doing the same to – Gomez.

Valle capitalized on a missed shot by Orcollo of the blue-2 in the 12th rack to uncork a telling 5-0 run that turned his precarious 6-5 lead into a title romp.

Orcollo, who failed to notch his third title this year after the Quezon City 9-Ball Championship and the All-Japan Open, settled for the runner-up purse worth P15,000. Pagulayan and Gomez each bagged P40,000 for reaching the semifinals of this three-day competition supported by Puyat Sports, Bugsy Promotions and Negros Billiards Stable.

Meanwhile, Bayani Porallo defeated fellow Cebuano Antonio Cusi, 10-7, to rule the Class B category of this tournament

Jun Mark Alegado nipped Elihil Pepito, 9-3, to bagged the High School division plum, while Jerson Cumayas subdued Joshua Ababon, 7-2, to clinch the Elementary crown.