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Falling short... again: Alcano loses to Immonen in US Open 9-ball final

October 26, 2008 10:58am
MANILA, Philippines - Mika Immonen of Finland bucked a late loss and two Filipino challengers to win the US Open 9-Ball Championships Saturday in Chesapeake, Virginia.

It looked like the finals would see an all-Filipino cast featuring former World 9-ball champion Ronnie Alcano and miracle man Warren Kiamco.

But Immonen had other things in mind.

Immonen defeated Kiamco 11-9 in the last losers' bracket match, then defeated Alcano 13-7 in the final to become only the second European to win the top-tier event.

In a complicated format that gives the losers a chance to get back in contention via "the losers' bracket", Immonen took advantage of the second life.

He, Alcano and Americans Rodney Morris and Johnny Archer ended up as the top placers in their respective "winners' brackets", the players who emerged without a loss in four preliminary-round groups.

Immonen beat Archer 11-7, and Alcano won over Morris by the same score as the winners set up a duel to determine the first finalist.

Alcano booked the first finals berth with an 11-6 win and in the process, sent Immonen to the losers' bracket where the Finn would meet Kiamco in a match to decide the second finalist.

Immonen got back on the winning groove versus Kiamco and avenged his earlier defeat to Alcano to give Europe its first US Open crown since Ralf Souquet of Germany won in 2002.

Runner-up again

It was another sorry loss for Alcano who also placed second last year when he lost to Shane Van Boening in the finals.

Alcano looked unstoppable on the way to the finals which saw him win eight consecutive matches, including convincing results over Francisco "Django" Bustamante, Morris and then Immonen.

But breaks going Immonen's way and his own errors did Alcano in. The Filipino found himself down 6-0 and then 10-2 and never threatened.

Alcano settled for for $20,000 (P960,000), while Immonen won $40,000.

Comeback kid

The feel-good story of the tournament belonged to Kiamco, who was two racks and two wins short of a Cinderella finish.

Kiamco, who had a first-round bye, was only two matches into the group stages when he was sent to the losers' bracket off an 11-9 loss to Josh Lewis last Tuesday.

Kiamco though would hang around a little bit longer, winning eight straight matches to come hairline close to a surprising slot in the finals.

And the opposition along Kiamco's way was no gravy. He survived two-time US Open champion Nick Varner, reigning World 9-ball champion Daryl Peach, countryman Lee Van Corteza, and two other former US Open champions in Rodney Morris and Johnny Archer.

Immonen's scalp appeared to be on the way when Kiamco had a chance to go ahead after a 9-9 score, but he muffed an easy shot at the two-ball and paved the way for Immonen to finish the rack.

Immonen sealed the deal with a clean-up of the last game.

For placing third, Kiamco took home $10,000 (P480,000).

The other Filipinos who finished in the top 12 included Lee Van Corteza, who was tied with Thorsten Hohmann of Germany for seventh to eighth places, and Francisco "Django" Bustamante and Jose "Amang" Parica, who was in joint ninth to 12th places with Peach of England and Donnie Mills of the US.

Corteza went home with $5,000 (P240,000), while Bustamante and Parica earned $4,000 (P192,000). - GMANews.TV
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