2004 World Pool champion Alex Pagulayan ended the Chinese Taipei stranglehold of the Guinness 9 Ball Tour 2008 as he defeated compatriot and current world number one Dennis Orcollo, 11 – 6, in the All-Filipino finals of the Singapore leg of the Guinness 9 Ball Tour 2008 at Velocity@Novena Square.
Pagulayan’s victory earned him the top prize of $15,000 top prize while Orcollo, who entered the tournament as a wild card bet, settled for $6,000.
The Chinese Taipei players previously dominated the Tour as they swept all six legs last year and this year’s first three legs, which were all won by Chang Jung-Lin.
Pagulayan managed his victory with a cue brand new cue from his Mezz Cues, which is an Alex Pagulayan Limited Series with a Hybrid Pro 2 shaft. The cue is one of the first ever Limited Editon cues made by Mezz for a player and only 50 cues were made.
Chang was booted out of the competition by Orcollo in the group stage last Friday.
The last time a Filipino won a title on the Tour organized by ESPN STAR Sports was in 2006 when Efren “Bata” Reyes beat Ricky Yang in Jakarta, Indonesia.
This also marks the first time since Lee Van Corteza defeated Francisco “Django” Bustamante in Manila in 2004 that two Filipinos battled for the crown.
Not counting an exhibition match in Guangzhou match in 2006, Pagulayan’s victory gave the Philippines a 13 – 12 advantage over Chinese Taipei in the number of titles won since the Tour started in 2003. No other country has won on Tour.
Known for his comical antics, Pagulayan actually trailed Orcollo, 2 – 0, but seized control of the match as he won the next five consecutive racks. Orcollo managed to make the match interesting as he only trailed by two, 8 – 6, after capitalizing on a scratch by Pagulayan in the 14th rack.
However, the player known as the “Lion” had the final roar as he won the next three racks courtesy of another Orcollo dry break in the 15th rack and a scratch in the 17th to cap off his first victory on Tour.
“Everything went wrong for Dennis and all the rolls went my way. It’s about time that we (the Philippines) won because the Taiwanese kept on winning all the legs since last year. It feels good and extraordinary to beat the number one player in the world,” said an extremely giddy Pagulayan.
“Alex was really lucky and it seemed that he was motivated ever since the quarterfinals. I played my game, but sometimes it’s all about the breaks of the game,” revealed Orcollo.
The 30-year old Pagulayan earlier reached the Finals after a 9 – 6 triumph over 2005 World Pool champion Wu Chia Ching. Orcollo advanced following a scintillating 9 – 8 semi-final victory over Taiwanese Yang Ching-Shun.
Pagulayan dictated his semi-final match from the start as he established a comfortable 7 – 2 advantage following two dry breaks and miss on the pink four ball by Wu.
However, Pagulayan suffered a dry break in the 11th rack and missed a corner pocket shot in the 13th, allowing Wu to win the next four racks and make it 7 – 6. Wu had the break in the 14th rack, but an exchange of misses on the blue two ball turned possession over to Pagulayan as he cleaned the rack to stand on the hill.
Pagulayan then had a clean break and clinched the victory with a run-out of the 15th rack
Orcollo had a more dramatic finish in the final four.
Precariously ahead 7 – 5, the player dubbed as “Robocop” missed an attempt on the one ball blocked by the four ball, paving the way for Yang to claim three of the next four racks to make it hill-hill.
With the match and a place in the finals on the line, Orcollo displayed impressive composure as he had a clean break in the 17th rack, putting him in good position for a run-out. After pocketing the four-ball, the Surigao-native found himself in a very fortunate situation as the five-ball lined up right in front of the nine-ball, setting it up for a match-clinching combination. The Filipino ace then calmly hit the cue ball which struck the five-ball before bouncing against the nine-ball that fell into the corner pocket to the collective roar of the crowd.
Up for grabs in the Singapore leg was a total prize purse of US$50,000 as well as points to qualify for the Tour’s Grand Final in Jakarta, which will feature the Top Ten players in the overall Order of Merit.
The winners of each leg will get to earn US$15,000 while the Grand Final Champion will pocket US$36,000. In addition, the Tour’s Top 10 players will also automatically qualify for pool’s most prestigious event, the 2008 WPA World Pool Championships later his year. The Guinness 9-Ball Tour remains the only ranking tour in Asia for players to qualify for the WPA World Pool Championship.
Following stops in Chinese-Taipei, Penang, Genting Highlands and Singapore, the six-city Tour will have its penultimate leg in Guangzhou in September before heading to Jakarta for the Grand Finals in October.