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04-03-2005, 03:09 PM
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Bata advances but Valle bows out

By JIMBO GULLE, The Manila Times Sports Editor

JAKARTA - The table was simply unkind to Gandy Valle, but not to Efren "Bata" Reyes.

Eight balls away from losing his quarterfinal match to Kuo Po-Cheng, Reyes got an opening at just the right time with a brilliant bank shot, subduing his Chinese-Taipei foe, 9-8, and becoming the last Filipino standing on Saturday in the second leg of the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour here.

With the victory, "The Magician" moved on to the semifinals of the $50,000 event, proving he’s an escape artist for the third time, this being his third straight victory that hinged on the final rack of the race-to-9 quarterfinal match.

In contrast, Valle’s became undone on two bad shots along the rail in the last five racks, bowing to Chinese-Taipei’s Yang Chin-Shun, 6-9, in the other side of the quarterfinal draw.

Valle’s defeat at the Hanggar Billiard and Recreation Center left the top-seeded Reyes to carry on the fight for the Philippines in the second of four legs of the tourney organized by ESPN Star Sports and hosted by the Indonesian capital for the first time.

"Every time it would become 8-8, I would begin to pray that I would be given another shot," Reyes said.

He was also on the ropes before edging Indonesian Robby Suarly, 9-8, in the last match of the second round on Friday—just a few hours after nipping Japan’s Kunihiko Takahashi by the same score.

This time, the Puyat Sports stalwart led 8-7, but failed to finish Kuo off when his break came up dry in the 16th frame.

The Taiwanese eighth seed ran out the table to tie the match, but came up empty on a 2-9 combination to the corner pocket that would have sealed the win.

With no straight shot at the 2-ball, Reyes caromed the cue off the side rail and hit the blue ball, which rattled gently into the corner to practically close out the match.

Ranked No. 5 in the world, Bata will take on another Taiwanese—teen prodigy Wu Chia-Ching—in the first semifinal duel on Sunday in the tourney bankrolled by San Miguel Beer and coorganized by the All-Indonesian Billiards Association.

The other Final Four encounter pits Yang, the fifth seed, against No. 6 Satoshi Kawabata of Japan.

Down 1-5, the Japanese was the first player to reach the semifinals with a gritty come-from-behind 9-8 victory over Singapore’s Toh Lian-Han.
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