Valle over Gallego at Villar Cup

Former Asian Games gold medalist Gandy Valle romped off to a strong start and then held his ground against repeated comeback tries waged by Ramil Gallego en route to a 9-5 victory and a seat to the quarterfinals of the First Senate President Manny Villar Cup Billiards Tournament yesterday at the Sports Center of StarMall Alabang in Muntinlupa City.

This as tournament top draw Efren “Bata” Reyes strung up eight consecutive racks to bounce back from a 3-1 deficit and thump rising star Benjie Guevarra, 9-3, to likewise advance into the Last 8.

Seeing action for just the second time in this P1 million-plus event after luckily drawing a bye in the first round and then trouncing reigning national champion Lee Van Corteza, 8-3, in the second, Valle explosively opened his duel with Gallego, quickly racing to a 7-2 lead.

But just when he thought that he would coast to an easy win, Valle was surprised when, after a timeout, Gallego came out smoking and ran out three consecutive racks to threaten at 7-5, before his break of the 13th frame went dry, allowing Valle back to the table for the finishing touches.

“I'm really determined to win this. It's been so long since I last won a tournament this big,” said Valle, whose last major title was the 2007 Ocean State 9-Ball Tournament in New York.

He was to face fellow Asian Games gold medalist Antonio Lining, who repeated over 2007 national juniors champion Mark Mendoza, 9-6, in their Last 16 match.

Also moving a step closer to the P400,000 top purse in this five-day competition organized by the Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines (BMPAP), and supported by Puyat Sports, Bugsy Promotions, Negros Billiards Stable and Star Mall are Warren Kiamco and Elmer Haya.

Kiamco, a former Southeast Asian Games gold medalist, made mincemeat of fellow veteran internationalist Rodolfo Luat, 9-3, while Haya, a 31-year-old rising star from Zamboanga, upended Joven Bustamante, 9-4.

Both Kiamco and Haya are stalwarts of Jonathan Sy's NBS, but only one of them will advance to the semifinals, as they drew each other in the quarterfinals set to be played last night.

The three other Last 16 matches are being played at presstime with current world no.1 Dennis Orcollo slugging out with Ricky Zerna, Corteza facing off with Carlo Biado, and Jundel Mazon playing with Jharome Pena.

Meanwhile, Joey Pardales stretched his unbeaten run to six matches to show the way in the Search for the New Billiards Idol Sipag at Tiyaga Edition, which is now down to four contenders.

The 21-year-old Pardales, a native of Valenzuela City and member of the FGR Stable of Sta. Maria, Bulacan councilor Fe Ramos, turned back fellow upstarts Ricky Gamboa and John Rebong with a similar 7-5 decision to loom as the favorite to bag the P200,000 top prize and the equally-prestigious Sen. Manny Villar Sipag at Tiyaga trophy.

Pardales will next face Arnel Bautista of Marikina City, who demolished William Millares, 7-1, in their quarterfinals duel.

The other Final-Four match pits Benson Palce of Pila, Laguna against Ato Baliton of Plaridel Bulacan. Palce made it to the semis after trouncing JR Sorio of Samar, 7-3, while Baliton held off Eljun Abellana of Cebu, 7-6.