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Luat rules Asian 9-ball leg in Taiwan, pockets $10,000

() - August 7, 2006 - 12:00am
Rodolfo Luat kept the Philippines’ domination of the San Miguel Asian 9-ball Tour, beating Taiwanese Hsia Hui-Kai, 11-7, yesterday and ruling the third leg of the $40,000 event at the Kaohsiung Business Exhibition Center in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Luat, who shocked reigning world 9-ball champion and hometown favorite Wu Chia-ching in the quarterfinals, literally scrambled his way to the championship round, winning an error-filled semis encounter with Muhammad Zulfikri of Indonesia, 11-8, early in the afternoon.

But the 49-year-old Pampanga native settled down in the race-to-11 finale, stealing two of the first four racks to seize control, 4-1, which he used as a springboard to pocket the crown worth $10,000 (roughly P510,000) on his very first try on the annual circuit sponsored by San Miguel Beer.

But the victory didn’t come easy even as Luat raced to a 7-2 lead as Hsia found a way to strike back that saw him win the next four racks to close in at 6-7. However, after battling the Taiwanese to a couple of safety shots, Luat took the 14th rack for an 8-6 lead.

Hsia then cracked under pressure, flubbing what seemed to be an easy shot on the green 6 on the side pocket, enabling Luat to steal the 15th rack to hike his lead to 9-6 before scoring on a run-out to sit on the hill, 10-6.

Even a rack run by Hsia in the 17th failed to shake the Filipino cue master as Luat took the 18th rack to win the crown.

"My hands became stiff in the end," said Luat in Filipino. "It’s a good thing that Hsia had some missed shots in the end."

Luat’s victory came after Efren "Bata" Reyes ruled the first leg in Vietnam and Ramil Gallego’s surprise win in Bangkok. The fourth and last leg of the $160,000 circuit will be held Sept. 15-17 in Jakarta.

Hsia foiled an all-Filipino title clash after thumping Francisco "Django" Bustamante, 11-4, in the other semis contest.

HSIA KAOHSIUNG BUSINESS EXHIBITION CENTER LUAT MUHAMMAD ZULFIKRI OF INDONESIA RODOLFO LUAT SAN MIGUEL ASIAN SAN MIGUEL BEER TAIWANESE HSIA HUI-KAI VIETNAM AND RAMIL GALLEGO WU CHIA
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