Garcia Wins Puerto Rico 9-Ball Classic
With a star-studded field of Puerto Rican and Caribbean-International Pool-Billiard champions, one could only have expected excellent performances during the 1st Palo Viejo – Puerto Rico 9-Ball Classic. Players and fans from the Island were treated to excellent matches between the locals and those from abroad.
The field was composed of 3 players from Aruba, 2 from Curacao, 1 from Bonaire, 1 from Jamaica, and 1 player from Guyana currently living in Europe, plus 27 Puerto Rican players that rounded up the Field. Unfortunately nine (9) players from Peru, four (4) players from St. Marten, and one (1) player from Jamaica were denied visas to enter Puerto Rico. Their participation would have made this event a bit more interesting.
Day one of the tournament saw four (4) international players survive the first two rounds of the Event. These were Danny Gokhul from Guyana, Arie Jansen from Aruba, Sugar Ray Soleana from Bonaire (Bonaire Champion), and Ditto Acosta from Aruba (2002 Pan-American 9 Ball Champion).
Ransley Tromp from Aruba did not fare well against Edwin Garcia (Puerto Rico) falling by score of 9-3 while Aaron Goodwin from Jamaica fell 9-7 against Wilfredo Mr. 8 Ball Camacho. Johnny The Legend Hellmund from Curacao was defeated 9-4 by Puerto Rican Player Javier de Jesus. Michael Arvelo, current Curacao National Champion, did not make it to winners side on Saturday by falling 9-8 to Puerto Rican Player Alberto Canito Fuentes, currently residing in the U.S.
Day two was tough for the International Players. On the winner’s side Danny Gokhul (Guyana) fell to Wilbert Ortiz (Puerto Rico) by a tight score of 9-8. Arie Jansen from Aruba fell to Puerto Rican Player Eric Gonzalez with score of 9-5. Sugar Ray Soleana from Bonaire fell 9-6 to Mr. Edgardo Puruco Ramirez (Puerto Rico), while Roland Ditto Acosta (Aruba) fell 9-7 against Puerto Rican Federation National Champion, Mr. Edwin Toro.
On the one loss side Johnny The Legend Hellmund was ousted from the tournament by Javier Perez from Puerto Rico with score of 7-1. Michael Arvelo from Curacao defeated Puerto Rican Antonio Perez 7-6. Arvelo’s next match against Alfredo Guzman (PR) did not go well, falling 7-3 to the Puerto Rican. Aaron Goodwin (Jamaica) ousted Ransley Tromp from Aruba 7-5. Ditto Acosta (Aruba) ousted Aaron Goodwin from Jamaica 7-4 Saturday night and Puerto Rican Luis Lassalle 7-5 to keep his hopes alive in the Tournament and advancing to Day 3.
On day three, 12 players were still in the tournament. The winners side was composed of eight (8) Puerto Rican Players; Wilbert Ortiz, Edwin Garcia, Eric Gonzalez, Javier de Jesus, Edgardo Ramirez, Edwin Toro, Jason Cruz and Alberto Fuentes. On the one-loss side were Alan Rolon, Wilfredo Camacho, and Javier Perez, all from Puerto Rico, while the sole International Player still alive was Roland Ditto Acosta from Aruba, whom was the 2002 CPB Pan-American 9-Ball Champion, and former IPT Pro Member. Ditto’s next match was against 2005 Marion Cup Champion – Mr. Eric Gonzalez falling with score of 7-4, and placing 9-12th in the tournament.
Many other great matches ensued during the tournament but very note-worthy was the efforts made by Alan Rolon, a known Puerto Rican Player in the U.S. Circuit and 2005 Challenge of Champions participant. Alan was playing hurt due to a recent incident in which he fell from a horse, severely injuring his non-shooting arm. Bearing the pain, Alan decided he had recuperated enough to play in the Tournament.
Alan lost his first match against Jason Cruz by score of 9-5 but during the tournament Alan proceeded to win 7 consecutive matches in the one-loss side before being halted by Edwin Garcia with score of 9-4 in the Semi-Final match. Alan got a very respective third place finish for his efforts in the PR 9-Ball Classic.
Jason Cruz and Edwin Garcia went undefeated in their respective brackets and faced each other for the Hot Seat of the event. Both are within the top 5 Puerto Rican Players. Jason Cruz scored a 9-5 win against Edwin Garcia sending him to the one-loss side where Edwin handily defeated Alan Rolon 9-4 for a rematch against Jason. By consensus among the Players, the Final match was to be one race to 11.
At the beginning of the Final Match, everything looked dim for Jason Cruz when Edwin Garcia put the score to his advantage at 4-1, 8-2; and 9-3; however, Jason was not quite finished yet. With a packed venue, cheers and applause’s from the crowd that was now divided in two groups, Jason made a remarkable comeback and tied the score at 9-9 to the delight and astonishment of the crowd. Two more wins and the Tournament Trophy were awaiting for any of these two excellent players.
Edwin was the first to reached the hill at 10-9 but the match was not over as Jason pulled another win to tie the score at 10-10. Jason had the break and an excellent opportunity to win the tournament but fate had other plans for Jason as he broke the rack but did not pocket any balls. The room went suddenly quiet for a moment but immediately exploded in cheers again when fans saw their favorite player starting to clear the table; however, Edwin could not find a way to position himself good on the 5 ball to continue his roll.
Edwin played a safety, leaving the cue ball behind the 6 and the 9 with a long jump shot for Jason. It was not an easy shot, although the 5 was within short distance from the pocket, Jason made a clean hit but could not pocket the intended ball, leaving the table wide open.
The last three shots of the event were agonizing for those favoring Jason but we had witnessed one of the best Finals we’ve ever had in any tournament in Puerto Rico. It was a true thriller, and we will have this event embedded in our minds for a long time to come.
Congratulations to all the fans and players for attending this magnificent event. We also thank Palo Viejo – our Main Sponsor, as well as Simonis Cloth, Aramith Balls, Poison Cues, and Criollo Sports Bar Restaurant for hosting our Event.
By Harold Acosta – President
Puerto Rican Billiard Federation
Caribbean Billiards Union