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PQQLK9
07-10-2004, 04:56 PM
The Philippine Star 07/11/2004

TAIPEI — Francisco Bustamante and Rodolfo Luat hurdled their first two assignments for the "Dirty Dozen" yesterday but it was Lee Van Corteza who provided the biggest news for the Philippines at the start of the World Pool Championship here.

Bustamante, the 2002 runner-up to American Earl Strickland in Cardiff, Wales, swept Pei-Wei Chang of Taipei, 5-0, before beating Phil Wilkinson of New Zealand, 5-1, in the race-to-five, alternate-break group matches among the 128 competitors.

Luat defeated a couple of seeds, stopping Mike Davis of the United States, 5-3, before stunning Steve Davis, the deadly snooker expert from England, 5-2, as the Philippines, represented by 12 of its finest cue artists, got off to a good start at the Taipei World Trade Center.

Still, it was Corteza, at 25 the youngest among the "Dirty Dozen," who silenced the hometown crowd. He upstaged Ching Shun Yang, the boyish-looking back-to-back Asian Games (1998 and 2002) 9-ball gold medallist from Taipei, 5-2, in his opening match.

The field was divided into 16 groups of eight players each for a single round robin. The top four players from each group will advance into the knockout rounds of 64, 32 and 16 leading to the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals where $75,000 awaits the winner.

Efren Reyes, the 1999 world champion, has yet to see action as of presstime, along with Dennis Orcullo, Warren Kiamco and Jose Parica, the original "people’s champion" of Philippine billiards who’s now based and competing in the US.

The rest of the Filipinos who’d seen action yesterday were 1998 Asian Games gold medallist Gandy Valle, Ramil Gallego, Marlon Manalo, Antonio Lining and Antonio Gabica. The "Dirty Dozen" make up the most talented RP lineup in the sport’s biggest event.

Valle lost to Ying Chieh Chen of Taipei, 3-5, then downed Matthew McInnes of New Zealand, 5-1; Gallego bowed to reigning champion Thorsten Hohmann of Germany, 3-5; Manalo clipped Timothy Hill of the US, 5-1; Lining survived Al Logan of Canada, 5-4; and Gabica drubbed Steve Lillis of the US, 5-0, but lost to Thomas Engert of Germany, 3-5.

Favorites who have yet to break the ice were 1993 and 2000 winner Fong Pang Chao of Taipei, 2001 champion Mika Immonen of Finland and 2003 runner-up and Fil-Canadian Alex Pagulayan.

Strickland had no problem beating Patrick Ooi of Malaysia, 5-1, like fellow American and the only three-time champion in the field Johnny Archer (1992, 1993 and 1997) who defeated Seung Woo Ryu of Korea, 5-0, and Hanni Al Howri of the United Arab Emirates, 5-2.