Dennis Orcollo wins China Open and US$40,000 prize

Dennis Orcollo. IMAGE COPYRIGHT BOB GUERRERO.

Dennis Orcollo cemented his status as one of the Philippines' elite sportsmen by topping Lu Hui Chan of Chinese Taipei, 11-9 in the final to win the China Open 9 Ball in Shanghai on Sunday.

It is the second major title of the year for the Surigaonon, who in May won the U.S. 10 Ball Championship in Vegas, when he beat Francisco Bustamante in the final.

According to World Pool-Billiard Association Press Officer Ted Lerner, Orcollo broke open a 3-3 tie with six racks in a row in the Alternate-Breaks format final to take a commanding 9-3 advantage.

The 31-year old Lu then stormed back into the contention at 9-7. The see-saw battle continued with Orcollo eventually reaching the hill 10-9.

In Rack 20 Lu left a two ball open and Orcollo siezed the opportunity, running out for the victory.

Orcollo banks US$40,000 for the title, while Lu settles for US$20,000.

A remarkable week for Orcollo started off badly in the Shanghai Pudong Yuangshan Stadium Arena. Orcollo lost his first match 9-8 to Andreas Gerwen of Sweden.

In the China Open, players first play a double-elimination phase that halves the field to 32. Then the tournament shifts into single-elimination.

Orcollo then had to beat Dutchman Nick Van Den Berg 9-7 then buck a 1-6 deficit against China's Wang Ming to win 9-8 and make the single-knockout stage.

In the round of 32 Orcollo overwhelmed China's former World Cup of Pool champ Fu Jian Bo 11-4, then edged another dangerous Chinese shooter, Dang Jin Hu 11-9 in the next round. In the quarterfinals yet another Chinese player fell by the wayside as Han Hao Xiang fell to Orcollo 11-8.

In the semi-final Orcollo bested Chinese Taipei's Chang Yu Lung in a match that lagged at 9:30 in the morning.

This tournament run echoes Orcollo's victory in the 2011 Predator International 10 Ball championship in Manila. In that event, Orcollo lost in his first match then went on an unbeaten tear, winning the final against Finland's Mika Immonen.

The next-best Filipino finisher this week was Davao's Lee Van Corteza, who stumbled to Ralf Souquet of Germany 11-6 in the round-of-16.

Former National 10 Ball champ Carlo Biado was unable to replicate the feat of his fellow Pinoys as he crashed out in the double-elimination stage after losses to Alex Pagulayan and Ko Pin Yi of Chinese Taipei.

Pagulayan, entered as a Canadian, dropped out in the round of 32, falling to Han Hao Xiang in a hill-hill, 11-10 match.

The China Open also has a women's component, and it was England's Kelly Fisher who came out on top, defeating 20-year old Zhou Dou Dou of China, 9-2 in the final match.

Fisher picked up US$30,000 for her week's work.

The host nation had ten players in the last sixteen of the women's event but were unable to win the title.

Young Chinese star Chen Siming lost to Zhou 9-8 in the semifinal while Fu Xiao Fang lost to Fisher by the same score.

Orcollo's fine form will give him plenty of confidence heading into the World 10 Ball Championship in Manila from October 8 to 14.

Then later in the month the Pool world's focus shifts to Chesapeake, Virginia in the United States for the U.S. Open 9 Ball Championship. Darren Appleton of England is the two-time defending champion.

While Filipinos have dominated the Pool scene for decades, they have notoriously underperformed in Chesapeake. Only two Philippine-born players have won the Open, Efren Reyes in 1994 and Pagulayan in 2005.

Scores of Pinoys have lost in the final match of the U.S. Open 9 Ball, with Reyes, Amang Parica, Rodolfo Luat, Pagulayan, and Ronnie Alcano all falling at the final hurdle. Reyes, Parica and Alcano have lost the final twice.

TPF thanks Ted Lerner for his help. You can follow Ted on Twitter @poolwpa.

Follow Bob on Twitter @bhobg333.

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