Filipino Aces Wreaking Havoc
by Mike Panozzo Jul 15, 2002, 9:58 AM EST
Ramil Gallego leads the Filipino charge.
With two days of Group Stage matches in the books, one trend is becoming painfully clear to the 128-man field at the 2002 Hasseroder World Pool Championship in Cardiff, Wales: the Filipino contingent is in dead stroke.
After Day Two, not one of the nine entries from the Philippines has posted a losing record, and two of only three players with perfect 4-0 records are Filipinos — Efren Reyes and Ramil Gallego. Thus far, the Magnificent Nine — Reyes, Gallego, Francisco Bustamante, Rodolfo Luat, Leonardo Andam, Antonio Lining, Lee Van Corteza, Warren Kiamco and Dennis Orcullo — have won 25 of 33 total matches for a stunning .757 winning percentage. Gallego has lost but three total games in his four matches, while Reyes has lost a total six racks. (Philippine-born Alex Pagulayan, playing as a Canadian citizen, also has a winning record at 3-1.)
The only other player with a 4-0 record is former WPA World Championship runnerup and International Challenge of Champions winner Kung-Fang Lee of Chinese Taipei.
The Group Stage in the $300,000 Matchroom Sport-produced event features 16 groups of eight players in a round-robin race-to-five, alternate breaks format.
Tournament NotesCardiff Insider
by Gary Baker
* EARL Strickland reckons that people in Britain can expect to see him flying in the World Nine-Ball Championships this year. The Pearl has fired his way to the top of his group in Cardiff and believes he can go all the way again to regain the title he last won twice in successive years in 1990 and 1991. Strickland said: "I don't think people over here have seen the best of me. This is the best tournament in the world and I want to go out and win it." Meanwhile, current world champion Mika Immonen is making his life hard just to qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament. The Finnish star has won two out of his three group games and is just in the top four where he needs to be on Judgement Day (Tuesday) when the qualifiers will be decided. Immonen has beaten Yong Hwa Jeong, of Korea, plus Wales' Wayne Lloyd but was turned over 5-3 by Chien-te Chung, of Chinese Taipei and is now listed at just 12-1 to regain his title.
* ITALIAN stallion Fabio Petroni was jumping all over Cardiff International Arena after he put his qualification prospects back on the road with a superb victory. Petroni had been looking to struggle to make the top four in group three after two matches in which he won one and lost the other. And he was expected to go down again on the TV table against 2000 world champion Fong Pang Chao, of Chinese Taipei. Petroni looked as though he was going to suffer another loss when he was behind 4-3 in the race-to-five. But he won a final rack shoot-out 5-4 and said: "I'm so happy. I've just beaten Fong Pang Chao! I try my best to beat anyone and I value any sort of win but against a former world champion, it is extra special."
* SNOOKER player Mark Williams is playing in only his second World Nine-Ball Championships and admits: "I don't even know the rules!"
Williams, who won the world snooker title - plus a cool $350,000 - two years ago, only hit a pool cue ball two days ago in practice. And his mate Steve Davis, who is a serious challenger for the Cardiff crown, has taken an unusual bet. Williams, who lives just 20 miles from the venue, is a rank outsider and in such a difficult group that 'Romford Slim' Davis said: "I've had £10 on Mark to finish rock bottom of the tournament. If he does, I win £80." However, Williams was just fooling everyone. He had a nine-ball table installed in his local snooker club and has been practicing like crazy on it.
And it has already paid off with him winning three out of four matches - and Davis is certain to lose his bet money!
* MALTA'S Tony Drago was not a happy guy when an autograph hunter asked him to sign his programme.
Drago, known for his lighting speed around the table, put the programme on a table and pulled the top of the pen off - only to have ink pour all over his shirt.
And he had to make a quick change into a new top because he was on the TV table just ten minutes later where he lost 5-1 to Shannon Daulton.
* JEREMY JONES, a quarter-finalist in last year's world championships and one of the biggest names in the American game, is in danger of not even getting through to the knockout stages of this year's tournament after slumping to another defeat. The 31-year-old Texan was dumped to an astonishing 5-0 loss on Saturday against qualifier Tommy Donlon, an Irishman who now lives in England. And today he suffered yet another reverse, this time going down to a 5-3 defeat to Welsh snooker player Dominic Dale after being 3-0 ahead. Dale described the victory as 'probably the best win I've had in pool' but Jones just walked quietly away to his hotel without saying a word.
* PRINCE of Pool Cory Deuel reckons it is about time that the United States won the World Championships again. The 24-year-old from Ohio is in sharp form in Cardiff and is not far away from qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition. But, with the US having mixed fortunes this year and no player having lifted the trophy from the States since Nick Varner won it in Spain three years ago, Deuel believes it is time it went back across the Atlantic Ocean. He said: "We have got a couple of great players here from the States but we are overdue winning it. "I've done alright so far but I lost my last match when I should have won it. The format to the tournament is great but I just wish it was a bit longer than only a race to five racks. I hope I'm in with a chance. I've played three tournaments this year and won one, came second in another and third in the last one."
* ENGLISH snooker player Steve Davis has earned the respect of so many pool players since he entered the tournament in 1999 and defied the odds to take on and beat some of the world's best. Davis, who has won the snooker world championships six times in a career stretching back over 20 years, has a nine-ball table in his house near London. And his dedicated practice for this week's tournament is certainly paying dividends - until late last night, that is! He won three matches out of three before meeting Indonesia's Mohammed Junarto on the TV table. Davis was expected to match The Magician Efryn Reyes as the two men to still have 100 per cent records in the tournament after four matches and two days. However, Junarto fought hard to keep with the Englishman - and eventually triumphed 5-4, much to Davis' disappointment.