• 5 Filipinos advance in World Pool Series

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    Five Filipino cue masters advanced to the second round of the World Pool Series first leg dubbed as the Molinari Players Championship being held at the Steinway Billiards in New York.

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    The always-strong Filipino contingent performed well.

    Dennis Orcollo, Johan Chua, Lee Vann Corteza, Israel Rota and veteran Ramil Gallego all advanced with solid wins.

    The only Filipino of note to stumble was Hall of Famer Francisco Bustamante. Bustamante lost a hard fought slog with Hungary’s Vilmos Foldes, 13-11.

    England’s Darren Appleton promised his fellow players that his new World Pool Series would give the players exactly what they’ve always wanted; a players’ centered tour with rules and a setup designed to test the world’s best pool players to the limits of their skills.

    If the results of Day 1 of the tour’s first event, the Molinari Players Championship, are any indication, that promise has already been fulfilled.

    Long races, pockets at a stingy 4.25 inches, breaking outside the center box, having to “take what you make” on the break, 3-foul rule, shootouts on hill-hill matches, and single elimination; these tweaks to traditional 8-ball rules all came together Saturday to prove that the world’s most popular cue game can truly be a hardcore test of pool.

    56 matches were completed with nearly the half the field already being shown the exit into the cold New York night. Eight top seeded players received byes. The field is now down to the last 64.

    With some matches taking over three hours to complete, it’s clear that stamina and patience will be of utmost importance. So will talent. Don’t expect any pretenders to make a claim on the $20,000 first prize to be handed out on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).

    It’s perform or take a hike, and even then there’s no guarantee, as American pool great Johnny Archer found out. Archer and Finland’s unheralded Kim Laaksonen engaged in a back and forth battle, until the Finn pulled away at the end for a hard fought 13-11 win.

    Laaksonen’s win wasn’t the only good news for Finland today and bad news for the US. Petri Makkonen took down the US’ Mike Dechaine by an identical score line. Both Finns move on while both highly regarded Americans are out.

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