It’s Hohmann vs Manalo for biggest prize in pool history.
by Mason King Jul 31, 2006, 9:42 AM EST
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – German precision will meet Filipino steel in the final of the $2 million IPT North American 8-Ball Open on Sunday, as Thorsten Hohmann and Marlon Manalo battle for the history-making tournament’s $350,000 top prize.
Germany’s Hohmann and Manalo of the Philippines rose to the top of the final round-robin stage of the tournament on Saturday night in the Venetian Hotel and Casino. Both posted records of 4-1 in the six-player bracket, besting foes Ralf Souquet, Efren Reyes, Dennis Orcollo and Evgeny Stalev.
“It’s not over yet,” said Manalo after coming back from a 6-2 deficit against Souquet in his fourth match, winning 8-6 and securing his spot in the final with a then-perfect 4-0 record.
Manalo then faced Hohmann in their fifth set of matches for the night. Hohmann needed to win in order to tally four victories and cement his spot in the final. In what was to be a preview of the championship match-up, Hohmann blistered Manalo, 8-1.
The winner of Sunday’s race-to-8 final will skyrocket to the top of the IPT’s rankings, this being the first event of the fledgling’s tour’s 2006 season. The winner will pocket $350,000, and the runner-up must settle for $99,000.
Hohmann, certainly the most fit of the final six, seemed to get stronger as the day wore on. The rest were visibly flagging, and missed balls and mental miscues were common.
“For next time, I will need to exercise more,” said Orcollo of the Philippines, who finished third with three match wins, collecting a none-too-shabby $80,000.
Reyes and Souquet both had one win apiece by the last match of the night, putting them in the position of fighting for fourth and fifth place. In a painfully slow and often sloppy battle, Reyes squeaked out a hill-hill victory, 8-7, to take fourth and $65,000. Souquet settled for fifth and $50,000.
Stalev of Russia, the biggest surprise of the final six contenders, had trouble shaking off the debilitating effects of the previous five days of morning-to-night play. He finished sixth with a 1-4 record but happily accepted a $40,000 check, roughly $33,000 greater than his previous high-watermark for prize money.
The final will pit perfectionist Hohmann, a former world 9-ball champion and current world straight-pool champion, against rising star Manalo, whom many believe could be the heir to Reyes’ throne as dominant Filipino in a country of pool giants.
As far as experience in big events and technical mastery of pool mechanics, 27-year-old Hohmann seems to have the edge. But 30-year-old Manalo had the best record in the Open, finishing the round-robin stages at 23-5 and winning 61 percent of the games played. Hohmann often found himself on the brink of elimination, only to pull through with gutty wins. His overall record was 21-7, with a games-won percentage of 57.3 percent.