In a mighty clash between two of Taiwan's favorite pool players, Yang Ching-shun prevailed over his long-time mentor Chao Fong-pang 11-6 in the final of the Guinness 9-Ball Tour at the jam-packed Kaohsiung Business Exhibition Center yesterday.
Of the six players Taiwan fielded for this leg, only Yang and Chao are native to Kaohsiung and it was appropriate that the two should fight out for the US$15,000 winner's purse, after recording semi-final wins over Taiwan's Wu Yu-lun and Ronnie Alcano of the Philippines.
Earlier, Yang had given three-time World Junior Champion Wu a lesson in composure, with Wu thrice scratching off his power break. From 2-7 behind, Wu managed to close the gap to 5-7 before Yang took another rack.
Wu then won two more racks and had a golden chance to level the scores in Rack 16. Breaking first, Wu committed a mistake on the 1-ball, allowing Yang to clean up. Yang went on to take two of the next three racks to get the win.
Speaking after the semi-final win, Yang said: "I'm feeling good and I'm able to read the table well. Wu's power break was spectacular but he often found himself out of position, or scratching, which handed me the initiative. I'd prefer to meet Chao in the final as there won't be much pressure to win between us. Winning and losing is an everyday thing."
And Chao duly delivered after defeating Alcano 11-6 in the battle of two World Champions.
It was Alcano who had the hot start, opening up with a solid 3-1 lead, highlighted by a magnificent 3-ball corner pocket off a two rail kick in Rack 3. But spurred on by his hometown fans, Chao turned the tide to win six straight racks, including capitalizing on Alcano's mental lapses in Racks 6 and 8.
Alcano then shifted to a soft-break, taking three of the next four racks before Chao surged again. From 8-6, Chao took the next two racks to break Alcano's spirit. Needing to win Rack 17 to stay in the match, Alcano was presented with a golden opportunity with an easy 3-9 combo. Alcano proceeded to fluff the shot, allowing Chao to complete a popular win.
"It's OK," Alcano said. "Chao really was the better man today. His break was going for him all through out the match. Plus he ate up the difficult positional plays I gave him. Even after using my soft-break I knew it was going to be very hard to come away with the win so I guess it's OK. I'm still proud of myself."
Having been knocked out by Alcano in the Group Stage in Jakarta, Yang was out for redemption in Kaohsiung. A three-time winner on the Asian 9-Ball Tour, including the very first tournament in Singapore in 2003, Yang was an image of calmness as he jumped to a 2-0 lead.
After the victory, Yang said: "I feel great. I knew my form had not been good lately, so I made sure I prepared well in the two weeks leading up to this event. I have made sacrifices and this is the fruit of my labor."
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