Manila, July 6, 2003 By Dante Navarro (Star) Ralf Souquet broke Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes in the fifth rack and broke the hearts of the Filipino fans bracing for the idol’s stint in the final as the German cut his popular rival down to size with a clinical 11-6 victory in the On Cue! Europe vs Philippines 9-ball showdown at The Loop Entertainment Center inside the ABS-CBN compound last night.

The triumph, coupled with the 11-7 victory by Mika Immonen over Warren Kiamco earlier in the day, arranged an all-European showdown for the top $15,000 purse put up by giant television network ABS-CBN, relegating the local bets to a battle of third place.

Two missed shots in the early going, an unproductive break on the fifth rack and a faulty cut shot on the ninth did Reyes in as Souquet, although failing to cash in on his rival’s two misses, scored on the two other Reyes miscues to seize control at 6-3.

That was all Souquet needed to annex the win, avenge his 5-7 loss to Reyes in the elims and set up a clash for the crown with Immonen, who was equally-impressive in trouncing Kiamco in their own side of the duel.

Not even Reyes’ fightback off a steal on the 14th rack could shake off Souquet as the former yielded his turn on the next when he scratched off a difficult cushion shot on the red 3, the cue ball going down on the corner pocket instead of the target ball.

So steady and cool was Souquet, who matched Reyes’ quick 1-9 combination on the 13th rack with his own version of a 1-9 combo on the next that silenced the pro-Reyes crowd that packed the venue.

Tonight’s final match, a race-to-13 affair, is set at 6 p.m. before the 4 p.m. race-to-11 battle for third place. At stake for the championship is $15,000 with the second placer receiving $10,000. The third and fourth finisher will get $5,000 and $3,000, respectively.

Earlier, Immonen flaunted the form that won him the 2001 world pool championship and simply outclassed Kiamco, who routed Dutch Niels Feijen, 7-3, late Friday night, and nipped the fancied Francisco ‘Django’ Bustamante in the tiebreak to grab the second semis berth.

Except for some anxious moments in the early going, it was an all-Immonen show in a game he was heavily-favored to win as the Finnish ace yielded a rack just once while stealing three en route to posting that lopsided triumph that assured him of $10,000 in this five-day event held in cooperation with Puyat Sports.

"This is the right time to prepare for the world championship," said Immonen after the victory, referring to the Cardiff bask set to start next week where the world’s best players, including Reyes, vie for the prestigious crown.

Kiamco actually tried to stave off early elimination by pouncing on Immonen’s rare miscue to steal the 16th rack. But after he held on his break and cut the deficit to 7-10, Immonen buckled down to work, although a bit shaky as he failed to score a run-out, but clinched the rack – and the match – on the 18th

Both played tense in the early going, missing a couple of what seemed to be easy shots although the Finnish ace recovered his bearing faster than the Filipino bet, stealing rack 1 and winning on the break for a 2-0 lead.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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