PH cue artists reach KO stage

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FOUR Filipinos led by World No. 2 Dennis Orcollo nailed back-to-back victories Monday to reach the knockout stage of the WPA World 9-Ball Championship at Al Arabi Sports Club in Doha, Qatar.

 

Underscoring his lofty billing, Orcollo blitzed past Tomasz Kaplan of Poland, 9-4, to advance from Group 16 on a day when five other Filipinos were relegated to the losers’ bracket.

Qatar-based Filipino Antonio Gabica joined Orcollo in the Round of 64 after slipping past German Dominic Jentsch, 9-7, while unheralded bets Israel Rota and Marlon Caneda also advanced after impressive victories.

A house pro based in the remote Saudi Arabian town of Sakaka Aljouf, Caneda pulled off the shock of the day, shutting out World No. 15 Nick Ekomonpoulos, 9-0, even as Rota dumped Abdullah Al Yousef, 9-5.

The third day of the $250,000 tournament started with nine Filipinos on course for spots in the Round of 64, but Francisco Bustamante, Lee Corteza, Marlon Manalo, Ramil Gallego and Jeff De Luna were not as lucky, dropping their second games that sent them to the losers’ side, where they face must-win matches.

Bustamante took a 6-9 loss to Marlon Gama of Portugal, leaving him in a do-or-die encounter with German hotshot Thorsten Hohmann, while Manalo hardly put up a fight in a 1-9 loss to Kuwaiti star Omar Al-Shahen.

China’s Wang Can proved too sharp for Gallego, 9-1, while De Luna ran into an in-form Mika Immonen and dropped a 6-9 decision. The World No. 2 Corteza wasted a one-rack lead near the end and dropped a narrow 8-9 decision to Albanian Nick Malaj.

Efren “Bata” Reyes, Mark Antony and Carlo Biado remain in contention, but they have to beat their rivals in the losers’ bracket to advance.