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

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/

San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour Season Opens

379aThe first event for the 2004 season of the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour is happening this weekend, at Pool Haven in the city of Clarke Quay, Singapore.

A field of 32 top Asian players, headed up by pool stars Francisco Bustamante and Efren Reyes, will vie for the $50,000 prize purse, as well as a chance at entry into the World Championships in Cardiff, Wales. The Tour is the only ranking tour in Asia for players to qualify to the World Pool Championships, and the top ten finishers will be given entries.

The rest of the stops on this five-leg tour are as follows: Ho Chi Minh City (March 13-14), Hong Kong (April 17-18), Taipei (May 7-9) and Manila (May 29-30).

Due to the outbreak of SARS, only two legs were held in the inaugural San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour last year. 2002 Busan Asian Games 9-Ball singles gold medalist Yang Ching Shun of Chinese Taipei and 1999 world champion Reyes took the two leg titles, in Singapore and Manila respectively.

For more information on the Tour, please check out www.asian9-balltour.com.

Centre of Attention

Francisco Bustamante narrowly edged Earl Strickland in the final of the Ladbrokescasino.com World Pool Masters at Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex, England, on Sept. 2. The two players were knotted at 6-6 in the race-to-seven final played in the bustling shopping mall, before Bustamante keyed on Strickland’s empty break in the final rack to claim a 7-6 win and his second World Pool Masters crown.

The victory netted Bustamante £10,000 (approx. $14,400), while Strickland settled for the £5,000 runner-up prize.

“He never made anything on the break,” said Bustamante, who was backed by a large Filipino support group that also cheered on third-place finisher Efren Reyes. “The Filipino people in the audience were amazing, there were so many of them it was like playing in Manila. I’m so pleased to win this championship again; I’m playing in the US Open next week so it will be great to arrive there with this title in the bag.”

Strickland’s holiday wish

By edging Efren Reyes, 13-9, in the final of the US-RP Challenge in Muntinlupa City, Philippines, American Earl Strickland may have already secured his biggest holiday wish. “Finally, I got what I wished for,” Strickland told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, “to beat Reyes on his own turf.” With the victory, Strickland earned $20,000, while Reyes took home $10,000 for second place.

After knocking off Francisco Bustamante in the semifinals, 13-9, Strickland held off all of Reyes’ comeback efforts in the final, including a brief run that cut Strickland’s 10-6 lead in half. Strickland added wins in three of he final four racks to claim the victory.

Efren’s Revenge!

After losing to countryman Francisco Bustamante in the Challenge of Champions, and to Charlie Williams in the final of the Big Apple 9-Ball Challenge, Efren Reyes nabbed his second U.S. title of the year at the Gabriel’s Las Vegas 9-Ball Open in Las Vegas. Reyes, who exacted revenge by beating Williams, 10-5, in the winner’s bracket semi-final of the 64-player field, defeated Dutchman Neils Feijen, 10-7, in the title match to earn the $10,000 top prize. Reyes also won the Mid-Atlantic Open in January.

Johnny Archer finished third at the Riviera Hotel, followed by Williams in fourth place. Feijen, the 26-year-old current European 14.1 champion, reached his spot in the final by surviving loser’s bracket shoot-outs with Alex Lely, Danny Harriman, Max Eberle, Williams and Archer. He earned $5,000 as runner-up.

Lights are ON for Big Apple 9-Ball Challenge

Despite Thursday’s massive power outage, which brought New York City to a virtual standstill, the Big Apple 9-Ball Challenge at Master Billiards in Queens will kick off Friday afternoon as scheduled. According to tournament director Alexandra Dyer, power has been fully restored at the billiard club, and a stellar 90-player field is slated for action.

“I’ll admit,” said Dyer Friday morning, just prior to the player’s draw, “last night was really bleak. I tried to be philosophical, telling myself to deal with this the best way we can. Then the power came back on at around five o’clock this morning. It was such a relief.”

Dyer added that several players phoned in, citing difficulties in getting into the city, but that their arrivals were imminent.

“We’ll fall just short of a 96-player field,” Dyer said. “But I’m ecstatic that we have 90 players and such a strong field.”

Buoyed by the attendance of star players who participated in the eight-player International Challenge of Champions, held Wednesday and Thursday in nearby Uncasville, Conn., and won by Francisco Bustamante, the Big Apple 9-Ball Challenge field includes Bustamante, Efren Reyes, Holland’s Nick Van den Berg, Germany’s Ralf Souquet and American Johnny Archer. The $20,000-added tournament runs through Sunday.

Danny Hewitt Takes 10-Ball Crown

Danny Hewitt of Montreal, Quebec, defeated Hall-of-famer Jim Rempe in a tense hill-hill match, 10-9, to take the title at the Trump Marina 10-Ball Challenge in Atlantic City, N.J., held Feb. 19-23.

Hewitt was fresh off a second-place finish at the Joss Northeast 9-ball tour’s stop at Cap’s Cue Club in Syracuse, N.Y., where he had met defeat in the form of Alex Pagulayan.

On his way to the 10-ball win, Hewitt got his revenge over Pagulayan. He lost his first match to fellow Canadian Claude Bernatchez (winner of this year’s Senior Masters Tournament) before plowing through the likes of Luc Salvas, Pagulayan, Ronnie Alcano, and Francisco Bustamante, to name a few. Rempe, for his part, defeated Hungarian star Sandor Tot, Pagulayan, and Earl Strickland, among others, to earn his shot at the big prize.

Hewitt earned $20,000 for coming out on top while Rempe took home $14,000 for second place; Alcano and Bustamante rounded out the top four spots.

Efren Reyes Takes Mid-Atlantic 9-Ball Crown

The ever-humble Reyes chalked his win up to luck.

The ever-humble Reyes chalked his win up to luck.

Efren “Bata” Reyes took the title at the Mid Atlantic 9-Ball Championship in Chesapeake, Va., held Jan. 22-26. He defeated Korean ace Young Hwa Jeong, 13-7, revenging an earlier loss to Jeong in the winners’-side semifinal.

Efren put in a stunning run to get to the finals, holding his opponents to the single digits in race-to-11 games. He defeated Leonardo Andam, 11-5, Mike Lebron, 11-3, Tony Robles, 11-7, Jose Parica, 11-5, Jim Rempe, 11-3, and Francisco Bustamante, 11-6, before losing to Jeong, 11-8, and taking at trip to the losers’ side. Once there, he defeated Bustamante again, 11-8, to earn himself the final rematch with Jeong.

Both finalists were in top form for the duration of the tournament, and the final showcased nearly flawless play by both competitors. Reyes felt that the turning point in the final was a single missed shot by Jeong, coupled with a dose of luck: “I was behind 4-3 and Young missed a shot. This is when I got lucky, because the gods smiled on me and I knew it was my chance to win. I am very lucky.”

Bustamante Wins Las Vegas Invitational

Bustamante zeroed in on the title in Vegas.

Bustamante zeroed in on the title in Vegas.

“He just plays great against me. It makes me a little sick sometimes,” said Ralf Souquet after the finals of the Gabriels Las Vegas Invitational, August 23 at the Riviera Hotel and Casino. By Souquet’s reckoning, it was the 26th or 27th time Francisco Bustamante had defeated him in a finals match. Bustamante was characteristically humble about the win. “The only reason I beat him is in the beginning he never made a ball [on the break].”

Bustamante won $7,000 for first place, Souquet took $3,800 home. While some of the top names (such as Johnny Archer and Earl Strickland) were absent from the 37-man, one woman field, a full complement of Filipino players and such heavy hitters as Rodney Morris, Cory Deuel, Kim Davenport and the tournament promoter himself, Allen Hopkins provided entertaining action for the hard-core pool fans and handfuls of American Poolplayers Association members who were there for their national team championships running concurrently next door.