EFREN BATA REYESCARDIFF, Wales, JULY 16, 2003 (MALAYA)  - Efren "Bata" Reyes, the 1999 world champion, and former Asian snooker titlist Marlon Manalo scored impressive victories on Monday and sealed their spots in the final 64 of the World Pool Championship at the Cardiff International Arena here.

Manalo scrambled past Jeff Kennedy of Canada 5-4 and blanked Puerto Rico's Alan Rolon in the race-to-5 battle to match the 5-0 slate of Reyes in the $300,000 tourney offering a top pot of $65,000.

Reyes, who had disposed of his first four opponents in the eliminations, streaked to his fifth straight victory at the expense of Radoslaw Babica of Poland 5-3.

The multi-titled Reyes and Manalo, the 2000 Asian snooker champion, will go into the knockout stages unscathed, matching the records of Taiwanese players Ying Chieh Chen and Hui-Kai Hsia, six-time world snooker champion Steve Davis and Thorstenn Hohmann of Germany.

Leading the 128-player field are German cue master Ralf Souquet and Fil-Canadian Alex Pagulayan, both with 6-0 cards.

The Filipino challenge in the annual event looked bright after three days with just one of nine Pinoys sitting in the bottom half of their respective brackets.

Francisco "Django" Bustamante beat Taiwanese Po Cheng Kuo 5-3 before being dealt his first loss by top Russian player Evgeny Stalev 1-5. But last year's losing finalist still remained comfortably in the upper half of Group 2 with a 4-1 card behind leader Thomas Engert of Germany (5-1).

Ramil Gallego improved to 4-1 with a 5-3 victory over Konstantin Stepanov of Russia to move up to second spot in Group 9. Warren Kiamco, who bowed to Tony Drago of Malta 4-5 earlier in the day, matched Gallego's eight points with a 5-4 win over German Christian Reimering and improved his record to 4-2.

Lee Van Corteza suffered a 1-4 loss to Young-Hwa Jeong of Korea, his first in five games, but kept his spot in the top four of Group 10. The 24-year-old former SEA Games champion has the same 4-1 record as Young and Kevin Smith of England.

Qualifier Dennis Orcullo likewise suffered his first defeat on Monday, bowing 4-5 to Sweden's Marcus Chamat. Orcullo and Chamat share the top spot in Group 14 with identical 4-1 slates.

Antonio Lining also held on to a top four spot in his group, scoring a 5-2 win over Marc Holtz of Luxembourg for his fourth win in five games. He now has eight points, two behind Group 16 leader Hohmann.

Grouped with crowd favorite Reyes, Ronnie Alcano is only Pinoy player who has failed to climb up the standings, having only one win to show after five matches.

The native of Calamba, Laguna, who made it to the tournament through qualifying last week, was nipped by Roxton Chapman of England 4-5 and remained at the bottom half of Group 4.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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