NAT'L  POOL  ELIMINATION:  TROUBLED  ALCANO  FALLS;  PAGULAYAN  FINDS  TOUCH

MANILA, MARCH 28, 2007
(STAR) By Joey Villar - Unheralded Fidel Punzalan pounced on beleaguered Ronnie Alcano and pounded out a 9-5 victory to send the world 8-ball and 9-ball champion to the brink of elimination in the second BSCP National Pool Championships at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium yesterday.

Alcano, who rose to prominence after winning the world 9-ball title last year and the world 8-ball crown earlier this year, has been charged the other day with sexually molesting his 14-year-old daughter from his estranged wife. He has denied the charge.

But the allegations have apparently affected Alcano’s game as he was unable to get into his usual groove, missing on shots he normally would make and enabling Punzalan to seize control of the contest en route to the victory.

However, the 53-year-old Punzalan saw nothing wrong in Alcano’s pocketing, saying he won because he hit the big shots.

"There’s nothing wrong with his (Alcano) shots, it was just I’m hitting the big ones," said Punzalan, whose biggest win came in the 1998 All-Kansai Open in Japan.

"Magaling lang ang tinira ng kalaban ko (My opponent just played well)," said Alcano before heading to his brand-new Toyota Innova with his driver and a pair of bodyguards.

Defending champion Alex Pagulayan and 2006 Doha Asian Games gold medalist Antonio Gabica, meanwhile, played true to form after a shaky start Monday, dominating their respective rivals to cruise to the next round.

Pagulayan, who edged Roland dela Cruz, 9-8, trounced Elvis Calasang, 9-5, while Gabica, who survived Jerry Pelayo, 9-8, blasted Eduardo Villanueva, 9-4.

"I’m lucky and not so nervous anymore," said Pagulayan, who is coming off a victory in the Tokyo Open last week.

While Punzalan stayed in the winners bracket and will face Jomar de Ocampo, a 9-8 winner over John Rebong, Alcano was relegated to the losers’ group, needing to sweep all his matches to get a crack at the top P500,000 purse in this weeklong event.

Also advancing to the next round were Antonio Lining, Lee Van Corteza, Gallego, Rodolfo Luat, Leonardo Andam, Jharome Pena and Carlo Biado.

Lining downed Jun Caro, 9-3; Corteza defeated Jundel Mazon, 9-5; Gallego held off Victor Arpilleda, 9-7; Luat bested Roberto Dy, 9-3; Biado humbled Roberto Gomez, 9-6, and Pena walloped Gandy Valle conqueror Jech Jech Lemen, 9-2.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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