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2006 World Pool Championship, Manila, 4-12 November

RONATO Alcano is the 2006 Philippines World Pool Champion following a runaway 17-11 victory over Germany's Ralf Souquet at the PICC in Manila on Sunday night. Alcano, 34, from Calamba, Laguna, Philippines went into the final as an underdog against the 1996 champion but never looked in trouble as he led throughout the alternate break race-to-17 final. He now becomes the third Filipino following Efren Reyes in 1999 and Alex Pagulayan in 2004 to hold pool’s most coveted title. Alcano takes the trophy, the title and with it the $100,000 top prize which will surely change his life forever. There were scenes of bedlam in the venue when Alcano completed a 1/9 combination for glory and the thousand or so people in the arena and watching on the balcony erupted in a show of national pride as one of their own became champion.

For Souquet it was a bitter disappointment as he lost his second WPC final in six years. The game German was magnanimous in defeat as he praised his opponent’s all-round superior play on the day. Alcano used a precision soft break throughout and it paid dividends time and again as he bagged the wing ball and gained shape to pot the 1 ball into the centre pocket. Souquet’s luck betrayed him constantly but at times he seemed a little too conservative to gain any momentum. The Filipino opened up a huge 8-2 lead and from there it was always going to be an uphill struggle for Souquet. Alcano maintained his lead and the closest the German got was at 14-9 as he won three racks on the spin.

When he needed it, Alcano always had something in reserve – either a stunning pot or a tight safety – and he started to move away from his opponent. His sole hiccup came in the 25th rack when he buckled on a 9-ball to hand the rack to Souquet. With games in hand though, Alcano took his time and his moment arrived in the 28th rack. He locked Souquet in a snooker and when Souquet hit the 9-ball first en-route to the 1 the scene was set. The balls fell perfectly for Alcano and with ball-in-hand he held his nerve for the most illustrious victory of his career.

Alcano almost did not make it into the knock-out stages of the competition as he got off to the worst possible start in the group stages. Two consecutive defeats left him teetering on the brink but a late win over Holland's Marcel Martens saw him scrape through as one of only two players to qualify with a single win. Unfancied at that stage, Alcano experienced a transformation that saw his play in the single elimination knock out stages go into overdrive. First he bust up fellow Pinoy Roberto Gomez 10-1 and then came his make or break moment as he drew national hero Efren Reyes in the round of 32. ‘Calamba’ rose to the occasion superbly as he quietened the crowd with an excellent 10-7 win. Next up was 2005 runner-up Kuo Po-cheng of Taiwan who fell by the wayside 11-5.

Gunning his way through the top half of the draw was defending champion Wu Chia-ching and Alcano was a big underdog for their main arena quarter-final match. He delivered the goods though as he brushed Wu aside by 11-6. Standing between Alcano and the championship match was unknown Chinese player Li He-wen who had impressed throughout. It was a tense affair as Alcano prevailed 11-8 to set up a final against Souquet.

Source: worldpoolchampionship.com
Tags: Pool
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