Four Men Left With A Shot at Greatness in Doha
We are down to the final four in Doha at the WPA World 9-Ball Championships. The four men left from the filed of 128 who began the week are Johnny Archer of the USA, Kuo Po Chen of Taipei, and Filipino countrymen Antonio Lining and Francisco Bustamante. As luck would have it Bustamante and Lining will face one another on July 5th and so one of them will be in the finals and one will finish in a tie for third place. Our other semi-final, of course, will find Johnny Archer doing battle with Kuo Po Chen.
These four all had tough paths to get to this point. Kuo Po Chen lost his very first match of the event (to Thomas Engert 9-5) and then went on a tear through the one-loss side to make it through to the final 64. Once there he knocked out John Morra 11-9, Ibrahim Bin Amir 11-10, Yang Chin Shun 11-9 and former World 9-Ball Champion Ronnie Alcano 11-5.
Johnny Archer may truly lay claim to a tough draw in the round of 64. His first foe was Efren Reyes. This one gave the fans all they could ask for as Archer avoided the Magician’s spell and emerged with an 11-10 win. Then he took out Bruno Muratore (11-7) and Jason Klatt (11-8) before gaining his seat in the semi’s by defeating Sandor Tot (11-6).Francisco Bustamante, the sentimental favorite here, really had to hoe a tough row to get this close to the goal. His very first match was against Fabio Petroni and he took that one 9-7 before dominating the super-tough Tohru Kuribayashi 9-6. Then Bustamante really caught a stride and went past Oliver Ortmann 11-2, Ko Pin Yi 11-8, Marlon Manalo 11-6 and finally Francisco Felicilda 11-5.
Antonio Lining had a tough start as well. He had to get by Corey Deuel and he did so in a close match that wound up 9-7 in his favor. Then he just set his game on cruise control and skated through Khalid Al Kamale 9-5, Lee Poh Soon 11-6, Nguyen Phuc Long 11-6, and Dimitri Jungo 11-8. Making that final step into the fab four was a high jump. Oliver Mendenilla took Lining all the way to double-hill before Lining grabbed the final table to win 11-10.
It can only get more exciting from here. One of these four is only two wins away from a World Championship!