RP aces, Taiwanese face off

() - August 4, 2006 - 12:00am
Efren "Bata" Reyes and Ramil Gallego and three other Filipinos try to keep the country’s domination of the 2006 San Miguel Asian 9-ball Tour as they lead the star-studded field in the third leg of the circuit beginning today at the Kaohsiung Business Exhibition Center in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Reyes, coming off a Last 6 stint in the recent IPT tournament in Las Vegas, ruled the kickoff leg of the four-stage tour in Vietnam while Gallego bested the best players in the region to capture the crown in the second leg in Thailand.

With former world No. 1 Francisco "Django" Bustamante, 2005 Singapore leg winner Gandy Valle and veteran internationalist Rodolfo Luat also in the fold, the Filipinos are expected to reassert their mastery over the field in the event which stakes $10,000 to the winner as well as qualifying points for the 2006 World Pool Championships in November in Manila.

Except for Bustamante, all four Filipinos drew first round matchups with their Taiwanese rivals.

Reyes is in Group 3 with Nien Rong-chih of Taiwan and Masaaki Tanaka of Japan with the Filipino pool icon clashing with Nien at 6 p.m. on the TV table, which will be shown live on STAR Sports. He plays Tanaka on table 4 at 9 p.m. 

Gallego is in Group 1 with Taiwanese billiard ace Wu Chia-ching, the 2005 world 9-ball champion, and Chan Keng-kwang of Singapore. Gallego will see action against Chan at 6 p.m. then takes on Wu in the live TV table at 9 p.m.

In his side of the draw, Bustamante is the lone Filipino who managed to avoid being bracketed with the local bets in Group 2. His first match against Thai Amnuayporn Chotipong will be shown live at 3:30 p.m. He plays Vietnamese Vu Trong- Khai at 9 p.m.

Luat, making his first appearance in the tour, will actually kick off the RP bets’ campaign in Group 6 as he clashes with Wang Hung-hsiang, another Taiwanese player and Indon Ricky Yang at 3:30 p.m.

Valle, the 2005 Asian Tour champion, heads the Group 8 cast that includes local favorite Yang Chin-shun in the TV table at 7:30 p.m. and Ibrahim Bin Amir of Malaysia at 9 p.m.

Launched in February 2003, the San Miguel Asian 9-ball Tour is Asia’s only premier 9-ball tour featuring the best pool players in the region.

STAR Sports will air the matches live from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for the preliminaries, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. for the quarterfinals tomorrow and 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. for the semifinals and the final match on Sunday.

The top 10 finishers in the San Miguel Asian 9-ball Tour Order of Merit will automatically enter the 2006 World Pool Championship in November.

The champion of each leg will earn the top prize of $10,000 while the runner-up will get $5,000. Aside from Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok and Taiwan, the tour will also make a stop in Jakarta, Indonesia for its final leg.

The main draw of 24 players will be divided into eight groups wherein they will compete in a single round robin format for the group stage with the top eight players advancing to the quarterfinals.

The quarters will be a single game knockout format. There will be alternate breaks with the group stage and quarterfinals following a race to 9 duel, while the semifinals and the finals will be a race to 11 matches. In the semis and finals, a player must win by two clear racks up to a maximum of race to 13.

For details, log on to www.asian9-balltour.com. For the latest schedules and program information on ESPN STAR Sports, catch us on the net at www.espnstar.com.

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