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  • Former world champion Dennis Orcollo survived a major scare before securing a close 9-8 victory over Canadian Jason Klatt as five other Filipino bets hurdled their opening day matches in the 23rd WPA World 9-Ball Championship at Al Saad Sports Club in Doha Saturday. Orcollo found himself in trouble after trailing in the race-to-9 match in Group 7, 8-6, but banked on his experience to get back in the next three racks.

    “I felt uncomfortable with the table,” Orcollo said, referring to the brand-new Wiraka table being used in the tourney, according to the World Pool Billiard Association website. “I struggled but I didn’t give up. You know I have a lot of experience. And I know that with pressure comes negative thoughts. It’s going to happen in pool. There’s nothing you can do about it. I just try to calm d o w n and stay focused, s t a y positive and that’s what I did today,” he added. Orcollo can seal his spot in the Last-64 with another triumph on Monday afternoon (Monday night in Manila) against

    Taiwanese Ko Ping Chung, who got past a similar hill-hill battle with Polish Skowerski. Also pulling off opening-day victories were 2013 runner-up Antonio Gabica in Group 4, Warren Kiamco in Group 6, Carlo Biado in Group 8, qualifier Raymund Faraon in Group 9, and qualifier Elvis Calasang in Group 10. But former world champion Efren “Bata” Reyes dropped a 5-9 loss to Korean Jeong Young Hwa in Group 9 and was relegated to the  losers’ side of the double – elimination format group matches.

    Qualifiers R a m i l G a l l e g o (Group 4) and Francisco Felicilda (Group 12) likewise lost to Dutch Nick Van der Berg (7-9) and Vietnamese Nguyen Anh Tua (6-9), respectively. Reyes and the two would now have to win two matches in the loser’s bracket to salvage a Round of 64 berth. Gabica, who placed second to German Thorsten Hohmann last year, nipped Taiwanese Kuo Po-cheng, 9- 5.

    “That’s too much pressure out there,” admitted Qatar- based Gabica. “You know at this stage of the tournament if you lose, you don’t get prize money. That’s why I don’t think about last year (slip up in the finals). I just think about getting to the final 64. I want to get the prize money.”

    Kiamco disposed of French Stephan Cohen, 9-7, while Biado, a semifinalist in 2013, clobbered Jordanian Noor Al Jarrah, 9-3. Faraon edged fellow qualifier Denis Grabe of Estonia, 9-8, and Calasang drubbed Libyan Mazen Berjou, 9-3.

    Five more Pinoys set to start their campaign last night were Jeff de Luna, Lee van Corteza, Israel Rota, Elmer Haya and Johann Chua, who took the place of a no-show Peruvian. (O. Leyba, PS)

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