NOVEMBER 9, 2006
(STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Another Filipino pool giant in Francisco "Django" Bustamante fell by the wayside but fifth seed Marlon Manalo and three less-heralded local bets hacked out stirring victories to advance to the Last 32 of the 2006 World Pool Championship at the PICC yesterday.

Manalo, the former Asian snooker champion and semifinalist in last year’s WPC in Kaoshiung, Taiwan, stamped his class on unknown Singaporean rival Chan Keng-kwang, 10-5, sustaining his hot run in the $400,000 event after a sweep in the group matches.

Ronato Alcano, Jeff de Luna, Jherome Peña whipped separate rivals to also make up for Bustamante’s heartrending 7-10 defeat to German Thomas Engert.

Alcano, a double gold medalist in the last Manila SEA Games, crushed countryman Roberto Gomez, 10-1, De Luna topped the Netherlands’ Nick van den Berg, 10-8, and Peña toppled Australia’s Louis Condo, 10-7.

Ramil Gallego was another Filipino bet ousted in the Round of 64, crushed by former champion Chao Fong-pang, 5-10.

Efren Reyes, Dennis Orcollo, Rudy Morta, Lee Van Corteza, and Rodolfo Luat were to play their Round of 64 matches late last night.

Alcano was the most impressive, yielding just one rack to Gomez against whom he incidentally lost a money game in the wee hours after Tuesday’s session.

"The money game was his but he seemed to get tired and I won the more important battle here," said Alcano, flashing a wide toothless smile.

After surviving the specter of elimination in the group matches, the 34-year-old Calamba native is now on a roll, assured of his best finish thus far in the annual World Pool Championship. He was out after the Round of 64 in his first two WPC stints.

He went through the proverbial eye of the needle to reach the Final 64 Tuesday, needing to beat the Netherlands’ Marcel Marten by no less than six racks. He hit the target, winning at 8-2.

Sustaining his fiery form against Gomez, Alcano found himself up against the winner of the Reyes-Orcollo match in the Last 32.

"Against any of the two, I need a good game and some luck to make it to the next round. But I’m feeling better as the tournament goes on," said Alcano, winner of the single rotation and doubles rotation in the last SEAG.

A number of pool fans went home with a heavy heart as Bustamante bowed to Engert.

"I’m fighting for my heart. Sorry if I frustrated the Filipino fans," said Engert, a veteran international campaigner who owns a pool hall with 14 tables in his native town of Dueren in Germany.

"I think I’ve beaten Django thrice now. But I’ve lost more games to him. I know him for a long time. He’s a great player and a nice person. I feel good pulling one over him once more," Engert also said.

The amiable German got off to a hot start, winning four of the first five racks then cashing in on good breaks towards the end. Bustamante actually caught up at 5-5 but Engert again moved ahead on a run-out on the 11th rack then gained more breathing room after his Filipino foe scratched on the break on the succeeding rack.

Bustamante must be so frustrated he made himself scarce in the cavernous PICC hall after the match.

Other big guns booted out in the Round of 64 were three-time champion and 17th seed Earl Strickland, another former champion and third seed Thorsten Hohmann, No. 21 Oliver Ortmann, No. 22 Corey Deuel.

Strickland lost to Taiwanese Liu Cheng-chuan, 2-10; Hohmann to Canada’s Tyler Eden, 9-10; Ortmann to Russian Konstantin Stepanov, 3-10; and Deuel to reigning champion Wu Chia-ching, 3-10.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved