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04-01-2005, 08:39 AM
Local players shoot for surprises in 9-ball event

Moch. N. Kurniawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

With marquee names such as Efren Reyes of the Philippines and Chao Fong Pang of Chinese Taipei here for the second leg of the 2005 San Miguel Asian 9-ball Tour, local players will have to draw on their hometown advantage to provide surprises.

"At home, I expect our players will kick you (foreign players) out of the tournament and win the title," Indonesian Billiards and Snooker Association (POBBI) chairman Putera Astaman said on Thursday during the announcement of the draw.

The US$200,000 tournament has four legs: Singapore (March 4-6), Jakarta (April 1-3), Kaohsiung, Taiwan (April 29-May 1) and Manila (June 3-5).

For the opening leg, Indonesia sent Muhammad Junarto and Yudarman Kamaruddin, but they lost in early rounds. Filipino Gandy Valle won the $10,000 top prize.

Four local players -- Junarto, Yudarman and wild cards Muhammad Zulfikri and Robby Suarly -- will compete in Jakarta.

Among first round matchups, Yudarman has potentially the most difficult contest against Chao Fong Fang, the 1993 World 9-ball champion.

Junarto meets Manan Chandra of India, Zulfikri will face Ibrahim bin Amir of Malaysia and Robby squares off against Nguyen Than Nam.

Robby said Yudarman was particularly unlucky in his draw.

"The other draws are OK, including my game against the Vietnamese as I defeated him in the Bali International Open three years ago."

If Robby comes through his first round contest, he is likely to meet Reyes, the 1995, 1996 and 2000 World 8-ball champion.

"Looking at the draw, it will be a great achievement for me if I can beat Reyes."

However, the Filipino does not underestimate his first-round foe, Japanese number one Kunihiko Takahashi.

"We have met each other many times, so I know that it will be difficult for both of us," Reyes said.

However, he said he wanted to win the second leg of the tournament as he already lost the first leg in Singapore.

"I like to play and win here as I have many fans and media supporting me," he said.

Friday's games at Hanggar Billiard on Jl. Gatot Soebroto, South Jakarta, will start at 10:30 a.m., with live coverage on Star Sports cable station from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The game of 9-ball is a rotation game in which a player must hit the lowest numbered ball first. The object of the game is to pocket the 9-ball on any legal shot
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