Reyes, Corteza stay in contention in World 9-BALL
Former champion Efren “Bata” Reyes lived to fight another day, pulling off a thrilling 9-8 victory over Dennis Grabe of Estonia Sunday in the losers’ side of the group stage of the WPA World 9-Ball Championship at Al Saad Sports Club in Doha, Qatar.
On a day unheralded Filipinos like Johann Chua and Elmer Haya produced stunning wins, the 59-year-old Reyes rediscovered his old, fiery form just in time to keep his hopes alive of reaching the knockout stage.
Beaten by Korean Hwa Jeong-young in his first match, Reyes looked vulnerable against Grabe, who took an early lead, before allowing the Filipino master to snatch the win.
After surviving a gruelling qualifying round, Chua stunned American Corey Duel, 9-2, to move into the winners’ side of the draw.
The Bacolod-born Chua wasn’t even supposed to make the group stage, but a last-minute pullout left a slot open, which Chua took at the expense of unheralded Japanese Arita Hideaki.
Haya, an OFW from Butuan City who is based in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, blitzed past his fancied compatriot Lee Vann Corteza, 9-2, in Group 16.
“I always feel confident when I play against him (Corteza),” said the 37-year-old Haya, who had figured in many duels with Lee Vann in the past in tournaments in Davao.
Corteza kept his title hopes alive later with a 9-6 triumph over Mario Morra of Canada, after winning the last six racks, even as another Filipino, Jeff De Luna, edged Poland’s Tomasz Kaplan, 9-8.
Facing a do-or-die scenario, veteran Ramil Gallego survived with a narrow 9-7 victory over Mishel Turkey of Qatar, while Francisco Felicilda dodged early elimination, following a 9-5 win over Christian Aguirre of Ecuador.
Top-ranked Filipinos Carlo Biado and Dennis Orcollo also notched first-round victories Saturday when last year’s losing finalist, Antonio Gabica, also moved within a win of making the knockout stage.