MANILA, Philippines?Demosthenes Pulpul will have to be content with being called Philippine pool?s newest darling.
Pulpul?s magical ride in the first ever World Ten Ball Championship came to a screeching halt courtesy of the seasoned Wu Chia-ching, who pounced on every error by the underdog Filipino to reach the title match of the $400,000 event Saturday.
Using a borrowed cue stick but still brandishing the same fiery game, the 19-year-old Taiwanese ace blew a 5-0 lead but steadied himself when it mattered to post an 11-8 semifinal victory at the Philippine International Convention Center.
Deprived of a decent meal after humbling China?s Liu Haitao, 11-8, in the quarterfinals earlier, Pulpul lost his touch after a magnificent rally from five racks down that even had him taking a 7-5 lead.
It was the only loss in seven matches for Pulpul, the 23-year-old father of two from Cagayan de Oro who made people forget his uncanny family name with his brilliant play.
The loss also wiped out the Philippine contingent in the week-long event that drew players from 47 countries as Pulpul followed Marlon Manalo and Jericho Banares to the showers.
Manalo and Banares bowed out after close losses in the last 16 late Friday night.
?Praktis po ulit (I will practice some more),? said Pulpul who will play for third place today against the loser of the Niels Feijen-Darren Appleton match that was going on at presstime.
Feijen eliminated fellow Dutchman Nick Van Den Berg, 11-7, while Appleton ousted American Charlie Williams, 11-6, in the other quarterfinal duels.
Wu got a shot at Pulpul after a clinical 11-7 dismantling of Finn Mika Immonen.
Finishing third would mean a $25,000 (around P1.175 million) bounty for the taciturn high school undergraduate Pulpul, who took up the sport because of poverty nine years ago.
Fourth place would still give Pulpul $15,000.
Pulpul, who said he?s very proud when people called him a hero of the country?s campaign, swore that he wasn?t nervous at anytime in the match that took more than three hours to conclude.
The easy misses, he said, came from fatigue and hunger after having eaten just three pieces of crackers in a 15-minute break between matches.
?I couldn?t follow through on my shots anymore,? Pulpul told scribes in Filipino. ?I felt fatigued and very weak. Maybe it (championship) just wasn?t meant for me.?
Wu, who lost his cue stick after a tournament in China before coming over, thought that he would have an easy time against Pulpul.
Instead, he found the sailing rough and finally admitted that Pulpul had the game to beat him as the Filipino won seven straight racks before succumbing to a series of errors and sorry misses that put the Taiwanese back to the table.