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Galveston World Classic: Filipinos Just Short of Running the Table
Oct 1, 2008, 5:44 PM

Immonen (above) edged Kiamco in the second set of the 10-ball final.
Well, it looks like the contingent from the Philippines made the most of its trip to Galveston, Texas.

First, Efren Reyes, on the heels of a victory with countryman Francisco Bustamante at the Matchroom Sport-produced World Cup of Pool, proved he can still play a little one-pocket. In the most talented field in recent memory, the Magician prevailed with a thrilling win over one-hole ace Shannon Daulton.

In the 88-player field, Reyes and Daulton met in the hot-seat match, with the American sending the Filipino legend to the semifinal. There, Reyes easily dismissed Cliff Joyner, 3-0, to earn a second shot at Daulton.

In the true double-elimination final, Reyes punished Daulton for the few errors he made, while the 55-year-old Hall of Famer seemed to escape without harm when he committed a handful of unforced errors. In the end, Reyes took the $15,000 first prize with two 3-1 victories.

While the one-pocket division paid out nearly $40,000 in prize money, the advertised first-place prize of $25,000 was lowered to $15,000, with the additional $10,000 redistributed to the rest of the field — a move that was voted on by the players during the tournament, with only Reyes in opposition.

Up next, in the 8-ball open event, Filipinos Ronnie Alcano and Roberto Gomez met in the hot-seat match. Alcano, the 2006 World 8-Ball Champion, edged Gomez, the 2007 World Pool Championship runner-up. Waiting in the left-side final, Johnny Archer then bounced the 31-year-old Filipino out in third place.

In the final, Archer, a recent inductee into the BCA Hall of Fame, couldn’t keep up with the steady Alcano, who pulled away for a 9-5 title-clinching victory.

Perhaps the story of the event, though, proved to be Nick Varner, who survived a murderer’s row of opponents on the one-loss side before being eliminated in fourth place in a rather one-sided affair with Archer.

The 61-year-old Hall of Famer edged John Schmidt, Francisco Bustamante, Rodney Morris, Lee Vann Corteza and Goh Takami in a left-side sprint that thrilled the crowd that gathered at the Moody Gardens site in Galveston.

The 10-ball event, boasting a first-place prize of $25,000 (again, down from the advertised $50,000, with the difference redistributed to the field), was the premier event in the World Classic’s first year. This time around, surprisingly, the Filipinos were shut out of the final four on the winners side. Instead, Americans Shane Van Boening, Archer and Mike Dechaine were joined by Mika Immonen. Immonen edged Van Boening, 11-10, while Dechaine, recent winner of the World Summit of Pool, edged Archer, 11-7. The Iceman then beat Dechaine for the hot-seat, 11-3.

The Filipinos were not dead yet, though, with Warren Kiamco making a run of his own on the one-loss side. He edged Reyes, Archer and Bustamante to meet Dechaine in the third-place match. With a tight 9-7 win, Kiamco moved in to the final opposite Immonen.

In the first set of the final, Kiamco appeared to have all the momentum, dominating the Finn superstar, 11-5. While Immonen was playing near perfect pool leading up to the final, he struggled from the start of his tilt with Kiamco. Even in the second set, which went to a case game at 8-8 (losers-bracket matches were races to 9), Immonen never found a groove. But Kiamco erred first in the case game, leaving Immonen a route through the remaining rack.

Like he has for the past 12 months, Immonen came up big in the pressure-packed situation, clearing the table for the 10-ball title.

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