World Champions Headline Guinness 9-Ball Tour 2008

Ching-Shun Yang

27 February 2008, Singapore – ESPN STAR Sports' Guinness 9-Ball Tour 2008 will feature two World Champions as the field is announced for Asia's premier pool competition. Philippines' Alex Pagulayan (2004 WPA World Pool Champion) and Chinese Taipei's Chia-Ching Wu (2005 WPA World Pool Champion) are expected to lead the charge as 24 of Asia's top pool masters cue off in the opening leg of the Tour in Chinese Taipei from 29 February – 2 March 2008, to be held at the Taipei Gymnasium.

Organised by ESPN STAR Sports with Guinness as the title sponsor, the Tour attracts Asia's top cuemasters with Asian Professional Billiards Union (APBU) -sanctioned players from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Thailand, India, China and Chinese Taipei taking part.

Chinese Taipei will be looking to repeat last year's dominance of the Tour with a strong line-up comprising of Wu, last year's Overall Tour Champion Jung-Lin Chang, Pin-Yi Ko (2007 WPA World Junior Champion), Ching-Shun Yang (2007 Tour Grand Finals Semi-finalist), Hung-Hsiang Wang and Pei-Wei Chang. Countering the challenge will be top-ranked players such as Philippines' Pagulayan, Joven Bustamante, Jeffrey De Luna, Antonio Gabica and Marlon Manalo and Indonesia's hot prospects of A. Budi Sumarno, Siauw Wieto and Ricky Yang.

Representing Malaysia yet again is Ibrahim Bin Amir, together with compatriot and Alan Tan, while Singapore has fielded Tour Toh Lian Han and newcomer Aaron Koh. Carrying the flag for Japan and South Korea are Satoshi Kawabata and Ryu Seung Woo respectively as Hong Kong's Han Xiao-Xiang and Vietnam's Do Hoang Quan will be looking to do their countries proud. Rounding off the talented field are Thailand's Nitiwat Kanjanasri and India's Sumit Talwar.

Commenting on the field, Mr Harvey Davis, Senior Director, ESPN STAR Sports Event Management Group said: “We are pleased to announce a world-class field for the Guinness 9-Ball Tour and we are proud of the fact that our Tour continues to draw the biggest and brightest pool talent in Asia. Our viewers can be assured that the Guinness 9-Ball Tour will deliver fantastic competition over its five legs across Asia and the Grand Final in Jakarta.”

The total prize money for this year's six-city Guinness 9-Ball Tour is US$320,000 and will feature a Grand Final in Jakarta for the Top 10 players in the overall Order of Merit. Winners of each leg will take home US$15,000 while the Grand Final Champion will walk away with US$36,000. The Guinness 9-Ball Tour is the only ranking tour in Asia for players to qualify for the WPA World Pool Championship and the top ten finishers in the Tour's Order of Merit will automatically earn a slot for pool's most prestigious event, the 2007 WPA 9Ball Championship scheduled in November.

Viewers in Asia can look forward to 15 hours of LIVE and exclusive broadcast on STAR Sports for every leg of the Guinness 9-Ball Tour 2008. Following Chinese Taipei, the Tour will visit Malaysia's Penang and Kuala Lumpur on April and May respectively, Singapore in July, Guangzhou in September and Jakarta for the Grand Finals in October.

The Guinness 9-Ball Tour is sanctioned by the Asian Pocket Billiard Union (APBU) and organized by ESPN STAR Sports' Event Management Group (EMG). Taipei City Government is the co-organiser for the Chinese Taipei leg. Guinness is the title sponsor for the Tour. The local sanctioning body is Chinese Taipei Billiards Association. Iwan Simonis and Aramith supply the official tablecloth and official balls respectively. Brunswick provides the official pool table while Predator is the official cue. BCLN is the official apparel supplier. The Official Hotel is the Sherwood Taipei. STAR Sports is the official broadcaster.

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