PLAYERS TRY TO EARN A SPOT INTO THE MAIN FIELD OF THE PHILIPPINE OPEN 2009
By Edward Asistin
57 Players representing the seven different countries of Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, and the U.S.A. battled in a Stage 1 Qualifier for 8 spots in the main field of 64 of the 2009 Philippine Open. The Stage 2 Main Tournament is being dubbed as the “SHOWDOWN @ MEGAMALL”.
The Stage 1 Qualifier was held at the Star Billiards Center on the outskirts of Manila in the city of Quezon City. The entry fee was $200 USD and the format was double elimination, race to 9 throughout the draw. Four players qualified for the main field by the end of Saturday, May 23, with the play-in matches on the winner’s side, with the other four knowing their fate by the end of Sunday, with the play-in matches on the one-loss side of the bracket.
Sol Gueco of Raya Sports is the tournament director for both the Stage 1 Qualifier and the Stage 2 Main Tournament. The qualifying tournament was played on Brunswick Metro Tournament Edition tables with YTT Billiard Cloth. The main tournament will be played on Brunswick Metro Tournament Edition with Simonis 860 cloth. The Stage 2 Main Tournament is being held at the MEGAMALL in Megatrade Hall 2 and will have a 10-table setup; 1 television table, 8 more tables for tournament play, and 1 practice table.
The story of the weekend is how three junior players from the Philippines outlasted the big boys in the Stage 1 Qualifier for their first trip to a major tournament and a chance to win the $20,000 USD first-place prize. Resty Labastida, Marvin Tapia, and Jestoni Magadia all were playing in last year’s Philippine Junior Championships and now get a chance to play with the elders for the big money.
Stage 1 winner’s side qualifiers from left to right; Oliver Villafuerte, Jestoni Magadia, Resty Labastida, Arnel Bautista.
Qualifiers from the winner’s side play-in matches:
Oliver Villafuerte (Philippines)
Arnel Bautista (Philippines)
Jestoni Magadia (Philippines)
Resty Labastida (Philippines)
In the winners’ side play-in matches, Resty Labastida caught a gear and rebounded from a 5-2 and 6-4 deficit to win four straight games to get to the hill before finishing his opponent 9-7. Oliver Villafuerte traded games with his opponent until 6-6 then put together two in a row to get to the hill and finished it off 9-7. Arnel Bautista advanced by surviving a marathon match that lasted over 3 hours, and Jestoni Magadia took down a fellow Filipino pretty handily.
Qualifiers from the one-loss side play in matches:
Naoyuki Oi (Japan)
Bernard Tey (Singapore)
Marvin Tapia (Philippines)
Elmer “Buddy” Kalaquian (Philippines)
In the one-loss side play-in matches, Bernard Tey won his match easily but only after barely surviving the previous match when he was down 8-4 and came back to win. Elmer “Buddy” Kalaquian was down 7-6 to his opponent but won the next three racks to advance. Marvin Tapia lost the second match he played 9-8 but never looked back as he won his next five matches to qualify. Naoyuki Oi handled his opponent with ease to advance.
There was a pleasant surprise Sunday evening when the 9th-12th place finishers of the Stage 1 Qualifier received news that there was one more spot available in the main tournament. After losing two matches, the four players now had a third chance for a spot in the main tourney and drew cards to see who would play each other in the first match of a mini single elimination, winner takes the spot tournament, with the runner-up becoming first alternate for Stage 2.
Kenichi Uchigaki (Japan) drew James Al Ortega (Philippines) with Uchigaki winning the match with ease. The other match was between Chan Keng Kwang (Singapore) vs. Luis Saberdo (Philippines) and went hill-hill and Saberdo averted the pressure on a tough shot in the case game that had the 10 ball on the spot and the cue ball in the jaws of one of the lower corner pockets. Saberdo guided it in the side pocket and advance to the play-in match. But Saberdo could not manage the pressure in the play-in match as Uchigaki defeated Saberdo to take the last spot to the main tourney.
Japan’s contingent sent twelve players to the Philippines. Nine played in the Stage 1 Qualifier with three being given automatic berths into the Stage 2 Main Tournament. By the end of the qualifier weekend five players from Japan remain with a shot at the $20,000 USD first prize.
There was also another qualifier held May 8th and 9th exclusively for the local Filipino players. Jointly promoted by Raya Sports, Star Billiards Center, and the BSCP (Billiard and Snooker Congress of the Philippines). This qualifying tournament advanced two players into the Stage 2 Main Tournament. There was no entry fee for the players as a result from the support of the promoters. The two players earning entry through this local’s only tourney were Allan Cuartero and Jonas Magpantay. Jonas is only 15 years old and played in the World Juniors in Reno, Nevada, last year and this will be his first major tournament.