NOVEMBER 7, 2006
(STAR) Nelson Beltran - Efren "Bata" Reyes settled down to the business of winning as he toppled Indonesian Roy Apancho, 8-5, to reach the knockout stage of the $400,000 World Pool championship at the PICC yesterday.

Reyes, who struggled in his first two matches, won the lag then took the first rack via a run-out to immediately set the tone of his relatively easy thumping of Apancho as he advanced to the Final 64.

Reyes, Apancho and American Tony Crosby actually finished with identical 2-1 win-loss marks in Group 2.

But the Filipino pool legend and Apancho gained passage into the knockout round with superior tiebreak points.

With Crosby defeating Polish Radoslaw Babica, 8-5, earlier in the day, Reyes faced a must-win situation while Apancho needed to score just four racks to make it past the group matches.

Reyes and Apancho both hit their targets, thus, becoming among the early Final 64 qualifiers.

Lee Van Cortez emerged the first Filipino to make it to the next phase as the 27-year-old Davao native crushed Croatia’s Philipp Stojanovic, 8-3, in their Group 9 duel.

Rodolfo "Boy Samson" Luat closed in on the next round with an 8-1 rout of German Oliver Ortmann.

Gandy Valle and Santos Sambajon sprang back into contention with separate wins over Qatari Ahmed Al Sada and Jose "Amang" Parica, respectively.

Jharome Peña and Leonardo Andam moved on the brink of elimination with similar 7-8 heart-breakers to Brunei Prince Muhtadee Billah and Taiwanese Chang Jung-ling while Roland Garcia bowed out of contention on a 6-8 loss to Sweden’s Marcus Chamat.

To many, Reyes, however, remained the man to watch in the fight for the $100,000 top prize as the 1999 champion safely made it to the next round.

"If I gain a good draw, I may make it all the way to the finals," said Reyes, who takes a rest today before plunging back into action in the Round of 64 tomorrow.

Reyes appeared to have overcome some pressure in the series, taking it easy in his battle with Apancho.

With Apancho having conceded the contest after leaving an easy match point to Reyes, the Filipino master surprised the crowd when he muffed a harried short, straight shot.

"I deliberately missed it just to stun the crowd. I also wanted to show Apancho he shouldn’t quit the next time," said Reyes.

The Filipino billiards icon took full control of the match, leading by a comfortable three-rack margin at 6-3 after a run-out highlighted by a superb bank shot on No. 7.

He went to the hill after another run-out on the 11th rack before facing little trouble with poor ball positions after his break on the 13th rack.

Still, Reyes salvaged that rack to close out the match when Apancho committed a crucial error.

WPC NOTES: Officials warned three-time champion Earl Strickland of possible forfeiture if he commits another misconduct in the tourney. Strickland was summoned by WPA sports director Thomas Overbeck yesterday for his misbehavior in his first two matches. Strickland promised to act like the old champ. The temperamental American master seemed to have lost his cool during his games with France’s Vincent Facquet Saturday and Taiwan’s Chen Ying Chieh Sunday and reacted sharply to the crowd. Strickland and Chen nearly figured in a fight. Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes is still hopeful he would get his purse for winning the recent IPT Eight-Ball World Championship. "I know they’ll find a way to get the prize so I’m not worried," said Reyes.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved