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Luat Wins Third Leg of San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour
Aug 7, 2006, 8:58 AM

Filipino Rodolfo Luat won the Kaohsuing leg and kept the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball tour crown in the hands of the Pinoys after beating "The Assassin," two-time world junior champion Hui-Kai Hsia, 11-7, Sunday, Aug. 6 at the Kaohsuing Business Exhibition Hall in Kaohsuing, Taiwan.

The win buoyed the hearts of the Filipinos, who saw their top bets Efren "Bata" Reyes and Francisco "Django" Bustamante crash out of the tournament.

Reyes was ousted by Masaaki Tanaka of Japan, 6-9, late Friday and failed to advance in next round after losing in the point system in the group stage of the first round.

Bosom buddy Bustamante bowed to Hsia, 11-4, in the final-four to prevent an all Filipino final. Luat, on the other hand, nipped Indonesian Muhammad Zulfikri, 11-8, to arrange a titular showdown with Hsia, whom he beat two years ago, in a 9-2 count, in this country when Filipino-Canadian Alex "The Lion" Pagulayan won the 2004 WPC in Taiwan.

Luat, from Angeles City, Pampanga, who is scheduled to celebrate his 49th birthday on December 12, took an early 6-2 lead in the race-to-11 championships round. From there he won five of six racks en route to winning the leg and claiming the $10,000 top prize. This was Luat's maiden appearance in Asian tour.

Filipino billiards master Efren "Bata" Reyes (Vietnam) and Ramil "Bebeng" Gallego (Bangkok) topped the first two-legs of this four-cities annual event where the fourth and final leg goes to Jakarta, Indonesia next month.

Aristeo "Putch" Puyat, acknowledged God Father of Philippines billiards, congratulated Luat's big win, and is hoping that the Filipino cueists will win in Jakarta. "A possible sweep?" he asked.

"I am just lucky because at the end the ball is in my side." Luat said.

Last year, Filipinos won three of the four legs: Gandy Valle (Singapore), Reyes (Jakarta) and former AZ Billiards Rookie of the Year Ronato "Ronnie Calamba" Alcano (Manila).

Besides the total prize money of US$160,000, the top 10 players on the Tour Order of Merit every year will directly qualify into the World Pool Championship.

For more information on the Tour, please check out www.asian9-balltour.com. For the latest schedules and program information on ESPN STAR Sports, catch us on the net at www.espnstar.com.


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