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The Thrilla in Manila: Pagulayan Loses Match; Strickland Loses Mind
Nov 7, 2006, 10:31 AM

Day Four is complete at the 2006 World Pool Championship — one of pool's most prestigous events, being held in the most friendly of pool climates: Manila, the Philippines.

What began Nov. 4 as a field of 128 of the finest pool players from around the world, has been narrowed to 64 after four days of high drama and tight matches to see who will follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner Wu Chia-ching of Chinese Taipei.

There is a record prize fund of $400,000, including $100,000 for the winner. This being the first time the event has been held in the Philippines, the event began with a formidable home team roster of 21. This includes several unknowns who made it through rigorous qualifying tournaments, all of whom were hungry for exposure. Seven countrymen remain.

After day four, No. 4-seeded Alex Pagulayan petered out after he lost a hill-hill thriller to Taiwan’s seasoned Lee Kun-fang.

Despite a shocking 8-7 loss to Tony Crosby on the opening day of competition, heavily favored Efren Reyes is still alive, booking a spot in the top 64 after edging out Roy Apancho of Indonesia. Reyes has looked shaky in the prelims, barely edging out Poland’s Radoslaw Babica on day two in another hill-hill match. "Bata" promised to play better in the next rounds, as a nation held its collective breath.

The remaining Filipino contingent included veteran campaigner Rodolfo Luat, “Pinoy Superman” Roberto Gomez, Francisco “Django” Bustamante, Marlon Manalo, Rudy Morta, Jeff de Luna, Ramil Gallego, and Lee Van Corteza.

Elsewhere, reigning champion Wu comfortably advanced into the next phase with an 8-4 triumph over Chan Keng-kwang. Wu was in good company, one of nine to advance from his homeland. He was joined by countrymen Hsia Hun-kai, Liu Cheng-chuan, Wang Hung-hsiang, Chao Fong-pang, Yang Ching-shun, Fu Che-wei, Kuo Po-cheng, Chang Jung-ling and Lu Hsun-chen, who ousted American heavyweight Rodney Morris.

America was not well represented by the explosive Earl Strickland, whose time bomb started to tick in day one against Vincent Facquet, when he was handed a formal warning from referee Nigel Rees for consistently fiddling with his cue case while Facquet was playing. Strickland then said: "I don’t care, I’m out of here" and stormed off stage before the end of the final rack to hand Facquet an 8-4 victory.

In day two, his temper fully detonated, in a match against Chen Ying-chieh. Strickland threw his cue on to the floor after every time he returned from the table, swore at the crowd and threatened to hit Chen with his cue. Between outbursts, Strickland managed to win, 8-6, after which Chen refused to shake his hand and filed official protest. Strickland was given a formal warning from WPA officials and he apologised. admitting that his behaviour was completely unacceptable.

Strickland advanced to the top 64 along with fellow Americans Johnny Archer, Cory Deuel, Jeremy Jones and Charlie Williams.

German's frontlines are still in tact, including Ralf Souquet, Oliver Ortmann,Thomas Engert and Thorsten Hohmann, as well as the lesser-knowns Michael Schmidt, Andreas Roschowsky, and Joern Kaplan.

Stay tuned to HeadString News for continuous coverage of the 2006 World Pool Championship.