Valle snares Singapore 9-ball crown

() - March 8, 2005 - 12:00am
For a first-timer, Gandy Valle passed the test with flying colors.

Valle repulsed Taiwanese teener Wu Chia Ching in a thrilling final round duel, pulling off an 11-9 victory Sunday and ruling the kickoff leg of the 2005 San Miguel Asian 9-ball Tour at the Suntec Exhibition Hall in Singapore.

Making his first appearance in the tour, Valle, the 1998 Asian Games 9-ball doubles gold medalist, overcame a 4-6 deficit to claim seven of the last nine racks, including the US$10,000 (P540,000) champion’s purse.

"This is for my family (wife Roselle and son Ralph Lauren),’’ said the 31-year-old Valle shortly after pocketing a wide-open ninth ball on the right corner in the 20th frame to the delight of a predominantly Filipino crowd.

"I thought about them (Ralph Lauren and Roselle) before making that shot,’’ Valle said, adding that his earnings will go straight to the family savings.

The victory further underscored the Filipinos’ domination of the circuit after former world 9-ball champion Efren "Bata" Reyes won three of the five legs en route to topping the tour last year.

Wu, who settled for the runner-up prize of $5,000, dragged the Filipino bet into a tight contest majority of the way but blew it away on an empty break on the 17th rack.

Taking the cue, Valle cashed in by sinking the final ball using a carom shot on the blue 2.

"When I saw the opportunity, I made sure not to waste any of my shots especially in the last three sets,’’ said Valle.

As a rookie on the four-leg tour, Valle was overwhelmed by his victory but he quickly acknowledged the exploits of Wu, who rose from a quarterfinal finisher in Manila last year to a title contender this season.

"He’s (Wu) very young but talented. He’s going to give our players more headaches in the future,’’ said Valle.

But the road to victory didn’t come easy for Valle, who reached the finals after booting out Taiwanese Yang Ching Shun, 11-8, in the semifinals and eliminating compatriot Lee Vann Corteza, 9-5, in the quarters of the tour organized by ESPN-STAR Sports.

The next stops of the tour will be Jakarta, Kaohsiung and Manila after which the top 10 players on the Tour Order of Merit qualify to this year’s World 9-Ball Championships in Chinese-Taipei.

For more information on the Tour, please check out www.asian9-balltour.com. For the latest schedules and program information on ESPN STAR Sports, catch us on the net at www.espnstar.com.

The San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour is sanctioned by the Asian Pocket Billiard Union and organized by ESPN STAR Sports’ Event Management Group (EMG). San Miguel Beer is the title sponsor for the Tour. Iwan Simonis and Aramith supply the official tablecloth and official balls respectively. Brunswick Metro is the official pool table and the Marina Mandarin is the official hotel, Suntec Singapore is the official venue. STAR Sports is the official broadcaster. The 2005 Tour will go to Singapore, Jakarta, Kaohsiung and Manila. Besides the total prize money of US$200,000, the top 10 players on the Tour Order of Merit every year will directly qualify into the World Professional Pool Championships.

For more on-site information, please contact:Cheryl Sim, ESPN STAR Sports Tel : (65) 9688-1318 or email: sim@espnstar.com.

Fauziah Ahmed, ESPN STAR Sports Tel: (65) 91540966 or email: fauziah@espnstar.com.

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