Villar Cup: Unheralded Zerna Upsets ‘Bata’

Marilao, Bulacan – Unheralded Ricky Zerna stole the thunder from the star-studded field as he took the scalp of no less than pool maestro Efren “Bata” Reyes with an astonishing 9-4 win in the second round of the First Senate President Manny Villar Cup Bulacan Leg yesterday at the Event Center of SM City here.

Zerna, a member of the rising Negros Billiards Stable of businessman Jonathan Sy, displayed superb pocketing and great control of the cue to pull the rug from under the man considered as the best cue artist ever and move a step closer to the coveted Villar Cup and the P300,000 top purse at stake in the this island-hopping series presented by Villards: Tulong sa Pagsulong ng Philippine Sports and sponsored by Camella Communities.

He will next face former world no.1 Francisco “Django” Bustamante, who notched his second straight win by beating reigning national champion Lee Van Corteza, 9-6.

After splitting the first four racks, Zerna took advantage of a couple of miscues Reyes committed to pocket six of the next seven racks for a commanding 8-3 lead.

Reyes stole Zerna's break of the 12th rack to score his fourth point, but his chance of moving closer proved to be short-lived as the 54-year-old Magician broke dry in the next frame, and Zerna sank and tough-angled two-nine combination to seal the biggest upset in this three-day event organized by the Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines (BMPAP) and supported by Puyat Sports, Bugsy Promotions, Negros Billiards Stable and ER Cues.

Like Reyes, fellow former two-time world champion Ronnie Alcano is also out of the running after succumbing to the upset ax of hometown bet Egie “Marilao” Geronimo, 9-7, in their opening round encounter Friday.

Egged on by his townmates, Geronimo quickly surged to a commanding 7-2 lead, and then quashed Alcano's late-game push to score another mammoth win in his budding career. It shall be recalled the 30-year-old mainstay of the star-studded Bugsy Promotions of businessman Perry Mariano humiliated Reyes with a 9-1 victory in the match in the Villar Cup Cebu Leg last June.

Geronimo was playing 2007 World Pool runner-up Roberto Gomez at presstime. Gomez advanced in to the Last 16 by blasting Mike Takayama, 9-5, in the first round.

Other Last 16 matches pit defending champion Gandy Valle against Rodolfo Luat, Jundel Mazon versus Ramil Gallego, William Millares opposite Carlo Biado , Russian Petiza against Elmer Haya, and Jharome Pena versus Villar Cup Alabang leg winner Warren Kiamco.

Gandy also survived an upset attempt by defending Search for the New Billiards Idol champion Joey Pardales, escaping with a 9-7 win. That set him a meeting with Luat, who demolished Godofredo Ducanes, 9-3.

Former world no.1 Francisco “Django” Bustamante and reigning national champion Lee Van Corteza won against top female bet Rubilen Amit (9-3) and William Chua (9-3), respectively, to arrange a round-of-16 collision against each other.

Other first round matches saw Bustamante trouncing top female bet Rubilen Amit 9-3; Corteza whipping William Chua; Mazon downing Benjie Guevarra, 9-3; Gallego manhandling Johann Chua. 9-1; Millares upending Kuwait's Abdulah Al Yousef, 9-6; Biado trouncing Michael Feliciano, 9-5; Petiza defeating Mark Mendoza, 9-4; Haya humiliating Panfilo Damuag, 9-1; Pena edging out Dondon Razalan, 9-8; and Kiamco beating Romar Villones 9-3.