Parica fills out Skins Semifinals

Jose Parica snared the final spot in the semifinal round of the Skins Billiards Championship late on Friday night and, in doing so, narrowly averted a playoff with at least two other opponents to reach the big-money rounds of the $130,000 tournament.

Parica will be joined in the semis – where $42,000 will be up for grabs – by Johnny Archer, Luc Salvas, Rodney Morris, Santos Sambajon, Ralf Souquet, Cory Deuel and Danny Basavich. The four players then advancing to the finals will play for an additional $54,000.

The Skins opening round kicked off Friday afternoon at the Resorts hotel and casino in Atlantic City, N.J., with 16 players divided into four brackets, playing for $500 per game. Each bracket consisted of 16 games, thus allowing a total of $8,000 in prize money per bracket. The eight players with the highest prize totals at the end of the round would advance to the semis.

By the end of play in the third bracket, it became clear that a player would need at least $2,000 to have a shot at the semis. When Basavich reached $3,000 late in the fourth bracket, all the pieces fell into place. If Parica could win one more game and reach $2,500, the final eight would be set. If he finished with just $2,000, he and at least two other players with $2,000 would have to duke it out in a playoff for the eighth spot

It came down to the 15th game, when the shooting order allowed Parica one final turn to break.

Charlie Williams and Mika Immonen, both with $2,000 from previous rounds, huddled in the back of the cavernous Superstar Theatre, rooting for Basavich to win the deciding game. But even on the ropes, Parica was too clever for his foe. Stymied by a safety, Parica decided to foul intentionally and sabotage Basavich’s runout by nestling the 5 next to the 8. Sure enough, Basavich’s runout stalled at the 5, and Parica nailed a tough cross-side bank on the 5 to take control of the table and eventually win the game.

“I’m more experienced than anybody,” the plucky Filipino said. “I think. I make the smart play.”
The Skins action will finish up Saturday evening. Check back for the final results.

Engert Masters Another Field

Thomas Engert can’t explain why, after years of playing in the shadow of his internationally successful countrymen Oliver Ortmann, Ralf Souquet and Thorsten Hohmann, he’s suddenly title-prone, but he’s not arguing.

“I can’t explain it,” said the 38-year-old German after coming from behind to beat Ortmann, 8-6, in the finale of the World Pool Masters in Egmond aan Zee, Holland. “But it’s okay with me.”
Engert, who picked up $50,000 in August at the International Challenge of Champions, earned another $20,000 at the Matchroom Sport-run World Pool Masters. The reigning European 9-Ball Champion may even have earned a spot on Europe’s 2004 Mosconi Cup squad with the win.

Engert led most of the match against Ortmann, but trailed 6-5 before rattling off the final three racks for the title in the 16-player international field.

Engert Wins Challenge of Champions

Thomas Engert, one of Germany’s most decorated pro pool players over the past 25 years, finally made his presence felt on the international stage by beating countryman Thorsten Hohmann in straight sets, 5-2, 5-2, to win the Challenge of Champions at the Mohegan Sun Hotel & Casino in Uncasville, Conn., Thursday night. The 38-year-old from Duren picked up the $50,000 as champion in the 14th running of the $50,000 winner-takes-all tournament.

Engert, the holder of more than 30 German national titles and a dozen European championships, controlled both sets with crisp shot-making and several fortuitous kick shots. Engert led from the start in both sets, forging a 4-1 lead in the first, and winning the last three racks in the second.

Hohmann, the 25-year-old former world champion, never got untracked against his longtime friend and frequent rival.

With Hohmann, Oliver Ortmann and Ralf Souquet all claiming world crowns for Germany, the Challenge of Champions title finally gave Engert hardware and a payday that matched his compatriots.

Big Apple Day Two Complete

The big name matches are piling up at the Master Billiards 9-Ball Challenge in Queens NY. Multiple battles deserve star billing on Friday evening, with Thorsten Hohmann facing Rodney Morris on one side of the arena while crowds also gathered around the Danny Harriman/Young Hwa Jeong match and a Jose Parica/Danny “Kid Delicious” Basavich battle.

By 9PM, Parica, Morris and Harriman were the ones still standing in the winners bracket. Other strong contenders still in the fight include George ‘Ginky’ San Souci, returning from his declared retirement to play in this event, and the always dependable Ralf Souquet.

Saturday morning will feature a marquee match between Francisco Bustamante and Johnny Archer with the cameras of worldpool.com running at 11:00 AM EST. The match will be available for internet PPV at Worldpool.com.

Online brackets are updated with all of Friday’s winners at http://www.azbilliards.com/bigapple2004/brackets.cfm

Alex, the Lionhearted

Alex Pagulayan

Alex Pagulayan

Down 8-2 and fearing he would lose his second straight World Pool Championship final, steely Alex Pagulayan lived up to his nickname, “The Lion,” and roared back to score a 17-13 victory Sunday night in Taipei City, Taiwan.

Hometown favorite Pei-Wei Chang seemed invincible in the early rounds, drilling tough shots from every point on the table and stymieing Pagulayan with lock-tight safeties. But, at 11-6, Chang missed a 2 ball and gave Pagulayan some breathing room. Slowly gathering momentum and falling into his familiar jaunty rhythm, the 26-year-old Filipino (now living in Canada) started stitching together racks and forged an 11-11 tie. With Chang back on top, 13-11, Pagulayan threaded the cue ball through a tight opening in a Chang safety to sink the 1 ball and score a carom on the 4 on the same shot, blowing a hole in Chang’s title hopes. He then cruised through six consecutive racks to claim the $75,000 title, sparking a wild celebration that sent him leaping and dancing around the arena.

Chang, a 25-year-old Taipei resident, won $35,000 for his second-place finish. He ably represented an enormously impressive Taiwanese contingent at the WPC, which placed four shooters in the final eight. They had no answer for Pagulayan, however, who defeated no fewer than four Taiwanese aces on his way to the title.

It was a career-defining victory for the so-called “Killer Pixie,” who refused to relive the 2003 WPC final when he fell into a hole against Germany’s Thorsten Hohmann and couldn’t recover. He also hoped not to repeat the final of the 2002 U.S. Open, where he lost to Germany’s Ralf Souquet.

“No more second place!” Pagulayan screamed as he ran through the arena after his victory, soon breaking into a rendition of “We Are the Champions.”

For more details from the 2004 World Pool Championship, check out the event’s Web site at www.worldpoolchampionship.com.

Japan Cup Day 1 complete

Shuji Nagata

Shuji Nagata

Day one of the 6th Japan Cup is complete with most of the top seeds from the field of 83 players advancing to day two untouched.

After the first day of play, Efren Reyes, Francisco Bustamante, Ralf Souquet, Thorsten Hohmann and Mika Immonen are joined by Antonio Lining, Ramil Gallego, Young Hwa Jeong, Charlie Williams, Hiroshi Takenaka, Shintaro Sugaya, Terukazu Mukai, Go Takami and Syuji Nagata on the winners side.

Warren Kiamco and Dennis Orcullo did take early trips to the one loss side, but are still playing. Mike Massey has been eliminated.

Japanese players are performing well on their home turf. Go Takami upset Warren Kiamco 9-6 and Shuji Nagata beat Antonio Gabica 9-1 on day one.

The tournament runs until June 13th with a wheelchair event beginning Thursday and a Women’s division beginning June 12th.

Further information from the event is available on the official website at http://www.ibcjapancup.com/

Archer Takes Players Championship

Johnny Archer won the Brunswick Men’s Professional Players Championship, held March 25-28 at the Super Billiards Expo in Valley Forge, Pa.

Archer took a surprise second-round loss to Frankie Hernandez, 10-2, and then charged through 10 straight matches in the left bracket for the win. Notable victories included a hill victory over Charlie Williams, plus wins over Mika Immonen and Ralf Souquet.

In the final against Jose Parica, Archer dominated, 10-4, collecting $10,000 for the title. Parica took home $5,000 while Souquet and Jose Garcia took home $3,500 and $2,500 for third and fourth places, respectively.

Fox Sports Net to air Mosconi Cup on April 4

Matchroom Sport, producer of The Mosconi Cup, has taken another step forward in its mission to pave inroads for pool in major media outlets by striking a deal to air a one-hour highlights package from the 2003 Cup on Fox Sports Net.

The program will air at 5 p.m. in all time zones on Sunday, April 4.

The move is significant for big-time tournament pool, which until this deal with Fox Sports Net had relied almost exclusively on the ESPN family of networks for national TV exposure. Fox Sports Net reaches 81 million homes, according to a release from Matchroom.

“This represents real progress for the Mosconi Cup and men’s pool in general,” said Matchroom Chairman Barry Hearn. “This is Fox Sport Net’s first broadcast of one of our pool events, and they’ve started with the very best.

“Hopefully, this will be the start of something big, and we will be coming up with some more ideas for Fox Sports Net to look at in the future.”

“I am happy to be in business with Barry Hearn and Matchroom Sport,” said George Greenberg, Executive Vice President of Programming and Production for Fox Sports Net. “It is a great opportunity to get world-class events that will make for wonderful programming on FSN.”

With a ten-year history behind it, The Mosconi Cup has developed into one of pocket billiards’ most exciting events, as two six-man teams from Europe and America go head-to-head in a Ryder Cup-style format.

Following nine successful years in London, the 2003 Mosconi Cup was staged at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev., where it was received by sell-out crowds, including some representatives of Fox Sports Net.

Featuring legends of the game such as Earl Strickland, Steve Davis, Johnny Archer and Ralf Souquet, the contest went right down to the wire before Team U.S.A. pulled out an 11-9 win.

Reyes Shines at Derby City

Reyes like what he saw on the table at Derby City.

Reyes like what he saw on the table at Derby City.

Philippine sensation Efren Reyes proved to be the ringmaster of the three-ring circus of pool known as the Derby City Classic, which finally came to a close on Saturday, Jan. 24, in Louisville, Ky. After faring poorly in the bank-pool competition, Reyes logged a first-place finish in the one-pocket competition and was runner-up in the 9-ball event. That was enough to earn him the Derby City “Master of the Table” crown and its $20,000 grand prize.

A 24-hour, 9-day pool orgy for both gamblers and serious tournament players, the Classic kicked off on Jan. 16 with a $30,000 ring game between Cory Deuel, Jimmy Wetch, Alex Pagulayan, Earl Strickland, Rodney Morris and Charlie Williams. Deuel eventually outlasted Pagulayan for the $30,000 prize in a match that went well past five hours. The event proved so popular that Derby City organizers hastily assembled a six-man cast for the next night for another $30,000. In that six-hour tilt, BD Player of the Year Johnny Archer bested Pagulayan, Reyes, Ralf Souquet, John Schmidt and Jose Parica.

More than 300 players entered each of the three main events at Derby City this year. Jason Miller of Dayton, Ohio, took the 9-ball bank pool crown and its $8,000 first prize after besting undefeated John Brumback twice in the true double-elimination final (Derby City players with one loss can buy back into the tournament once in each division). Reyes mopped up Chicagoan Marco Marquez in the one-pocket final, 3-0, after his foe failed to take advantage of a commanding lead in the first game.

Pocketing the $9,000 one-pocket prize, Reyes then plowed through the 9-ball field, only to meet the similarly undefeated Souquet in the final. Souquet took the first match, 7-2, and after Reyes bought back in, “The Kaiser” toppled Reyes again by an identical score. The win brought a $13,000 payday for the German, who entered all three events this year without ever having played bank pool or one-pocket in a serious tournament setting.

Mika Immonen Crowned UPA Champion

Mika Immonen scored a 13-2 win over Charlie Williams and won the UPA Pro Tour Championship held at The Bicycle Club in Bell Gardens, Ca.

Immonen survived two hill-hill matches on his way to the finals, one with Jose Parica and another with Ralf Souquet for the point.

Immonen earned $10,000 for the win, the first major event of the new year. Williams won $5000 for second.