by Kristel Satumbaga
Jeff de Luna outclassed former champion Alex Pagulayan, 11-5, and advanced to the semis of the US Open 9-Ball Championships Thursday at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on Thursday.
De Luna was a bit shaky in his first break but once he got his rhythm, things went on smoothly and raced to a commanding 10-3 lead.
A silver medalist in the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, De Luna bungled the chance to seal the win in the 13th rack when he missed a straight three to the middle, giving the 2005 champion an opportunity to fight back.
Pagulayan, who hails from Isabela, managed to excite the crowd by taking the next two racks.
His rally did not last long and De Luna took the 15th rack with nary a trouble.
“I felt the pressure in the first rack,” said De Luna. “Alex is a great player, a World champion, but I played my game,” said De Luna.
De Luna, 35, will face Joshua Filler in the semis after the German downed Spanish Francisco Ruiz, 11-4.
By trouncing Pagulayan who is now representing Canada, De Luna is already assured of bringing home $12,000 (roughly R612,000) in the 256-man field tournament.
The champion will receive $50,000 while the runner-up gets $25,000.
Jeff Ignacio, who came from the loser’s bracket, failed in his bid to barge into the quarterfinals late Wednesday after losing to Taiwanese Chang Yu-Lung, 11-3.
A victory for Ignacio could have set him up a Final 8 date with China’s Liu Haitao.
Haitao was battling Chang for a spot in the semis while Chinese bets Wang Can and Wu Jiaqing are fighting in the other quarters pairing.