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Packed in clumps, Filipinos make poor bracket mates
Oct 19, 2007, 2:28 AM

CHESAPEAKE, Va. – To the relief of many in the narrowing U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship field, the perennially tough herd of Filipino aces is thinning itself out.

Six legitimate threats from the Philippines found themselves on a collision course Thursday night in one of the tournament’s four 64-player brackets. The six were matched up in three of the four quarterfinal matches on the winners’ side.

Jose Parica dropped Francisco Bustamante, 11-8, in their contest. Warren Kiamco beat Lee Van Corteza, 11-6, And Ronnie Alcano catapulted from a 7-6 deficit to an 11-7 victory over Efren Reyes on the center table.

The bracket’s semifinal matches on Friday will feature Canadian Tyler Edey vs. Parica, and Kiamco vs. Alcano.

The glut of Filipinos in the bracket came about through a combination of seeding and the luck of the draw, according to tournament director Scott Smith.

Filipinos have dominated the Open in recent years, including placing three in the final four of the 2005 Open, won by Filipino Alex Pagulayan. In 2006, American John Schmidt beat Filipino Rodolfo Luat in the final.

Staying in the winners’ bracket was even more important than usual at this year’s Open. Due to a slightly truncated schedule, Smith was forced to schedule losers’-bracket matches for 12:30 a.m. following Thursday and Friday night matches.

As matches ran long on Thursday evening and it became apparent that the 12:30 a.m. matches might not start until 2 a.m., Smith began to reschedule some of those matches for early Friday.

One of the players to benefit from the rescheduling was Reyes, who was visibly distraught after dropping his match to Alcano. Afterwards, he retired to the banquet room of the Chesapeake Conference Center, alone and slumping in a chair, his eyes half open. His 12:30 a.m. match was rescheduled to 11 a.m. Friday.

Reigning world 9-ball champion Alcano liked his chances to win the Open. “I’m playing even better than last year,” he said.

Against Reyes, Alcano displayed the same precise position play and sense of speed that won him the world title in 2006. Conversely, Reyes bobbled balls and couldn’t convert safeties at key moments in the match.

Elsewhere, Pagulayan was bounced from the tournament at 2 a.m. Friday by American Mike Dechaine, 11-9.