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'Little Genius' vs. 'Little Monster' in all-Taiwan final
by Mason King Jul 9, 2005, 12:01 PM EST

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan, July 9 - The host country of the World Pool Championship has put two of its own players in the final Sunday.

Taiwan's Po-Cheng Kuo and Chia-Ching Wu will lag for the $75,000 grand prize at 8 p.m. (8 a.m. EST) at the Kaohsiung Business Exhibition Centre.

Kuo, nicknamed "The Little Monster" for his baby-faced features, trailed American Rodney Morris in the semifinal, 7-5, and then won five straight games to hit the hill. Morris fought back to 10-8, but missed a long cut shot that handed victory to 27-year-old Kuo.

Wu, who at 16 is the youngest finalist in WPC history, steamrolled heavy favorite Marlon Manalo in their semifinal match, 11-5. Nicknamed "Little Genius," Wu took full advantage of his powerhouse break and several fortunate rolls to keep Manalo in his seat for much of the match.

"I'm very surprised I made it this far," said the beefy Wu, who looks like the quintessential school bully, about to steal the reedy Kuo's lunch money. "I was just in the bathroom, and I said to myself, 'Is this really happening? Is this true'"

"[To win Sunday] I just have to treat it like a normal match. I just have to keep calm and keep myself together."

Both players have strong breaks, excellent cue ball control and implacable demeanors. The older Kuo, who is undefeated in both the round-robin and single-elimination stages, would seem to have the advantage of experience, but Manalo was thought to be superior to Wu for the same reason.

No matter the outcome, this Sunday?s final will mark the first time a Taiwanese player has won the world championship in his own country. Taiwan?s Fong-Pang Chao won the title in 2000 in Cardiff, Wales.

The winner will take home $75,000, and the runner-up will pocket $35,000.

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