marlon manaloCARDIFF, Wales, July 17, 2003 (MALAYA)  - Filipino cue ace Marlon Manalo proved his playing ability is not limited to snooker when he completed a seven-game sweep of his eliminations matches Tuesday and joined the heavyweights in the knockout stages of the World Pool Championship at the Cardiff International Arena here.

Winner of the Asian snooker title in 2000, Manalo, who is competing in his first world pool championship, added Japanese Haruyoshi Hinokiyama (5-4) and Pascal Budo of Belgium (5-2) to his list of victims and stamped himself as one of the players to watch in the knockout stages beginning Wednesday.

Manalo was hardly fancied in the tournament, playing in the shadows of compatriots and 1999 champion Efren "Bata" Reyes and Francisco "Django" Bustamante, last year's losing finalist.

But the 27-year-old from Manda-luyong City has shown what he can do on the baize table, taking points from the likes of Jeff Kennedy and 2001 titlist Mika Immonen to join his more illustrious compatriots in the last 64.

Manalo finished the group stages with 14 points, allowing 21 racks to his opponents.

Reyes also led his group with 14 points and conceded only 18 racks. The 48-year-old on Thursday whipped Roxton Chapman of England 5-2 and nipped Austria's Alexander Markut 5-4 to improve his record to 7-0.

Bustamante managed six wins in seven matches and topped his group with 12 points after beating Shawn Putnam 5-2 and Ivica Putnik 5-4 in his last two matches.

Five other Filipinos advance to the next round-Antonio Lining, Warren Kiamco, Ramil Gallego, Lee Van Corteza and Dennis Orcullo. Of the nine-man strong RP team, only Ronnie Alcano failed to advance.

Lining clobbered Robert Elsey 5-2 and clambered past veteran Nick Varner of the US 5-4 for his sixth win in seven games.

Corteza made light work of Greek player Athanasios Vrakas 5-2 and went on to defeat Choon-Kiat Tey 5-1 and advanced with a 6-1 record.

Orcullo, a qualifier who started the tournament with four straight wins, held on to a slot in the top four of his group despite suffering consecutive setbacks at the hands of Tion-Boon Tan 2-5 and Rodney Morris 3-5.

Gallego, also a qualifier, had an easier day, scoring a 5-1 win over Richard Wolff and a 5-3 victory of Tony Drago to match six-time world snooker champion Steve Davis' 12 points and 6-1 record.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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