Pagulayan and Van Boening: Undefeated omens of things to come

Pagulayan and Van Boening: Undefeated omens of things to come

by Paul Berg

The Horseshoe Casino has some fantastic selections in the restaurant category. Legends provides a wide range of cuisine, while Pearl samples the Pacific Rim. Jack Binion’s notorious namesake graces the Steak House, renowned cook Paula Deen has a buffet, and Graeter’s Ice Cream can comfort a weary mind any time. Right near the hotel desk the Aroma Cafe & Bar provides a proper olfactory wakeup call, and for the grazing herd of billiards beasts, that hour can strike at any time. With a thunderstorm watch and a rescinded tornado warning, and the Sherman Minton bridge out, getting here from the old Executive West site of the Derby City Classic could provide a challenge for northbound travelers. Sureman Cues is a stop on the shopping buffet for those looking to take their shots with a stroke on the pool table rather than the dazzling array of slot machines, card tables and dice tumbling havens.

“I worked so hard to prepare for this and two days before it I got sick,” south side Indianapolis’ Brian Gregg reported as the last matches of the seventh round of the 9-Ball Banks division came to a close. Gregg and Tony Coleman also went after the ring game cash on Friday night, but the native son and disciple of Bugs Rucker had a view from the rail and expressed the contrast in scenery since Diamond’s amazing pool party changed venues. “I liked the Executive West [in nearby Louisville, KY], but I like it here because it’s cleaner and has better food.” A staunch field of 404 bankers at the outset has been whittled down to 27 with seven rounds of play complete, with many on their last barrel in the buyback format. Meanwhile, One-Pocket kicked off with 312 players, a surprise being Cliff Joyner’s opening loss to Warren Kiamco, a solid Filipino with plenty of seasoning.

Many fine players were eliminated from the 36th U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships Friday, with only the top 6 returning Saturday to collect their piece of the $175,000 prize purse.

Many fine players were eliminated from the 36th U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships Friday, with only the top 6 returning Saturday to collect their piece of the $175,000 prize purse.

Some big guns are still fully loaded. Defending All-Around champion Shane Van Boening remains undefeated and will face Francisco Bustamante tomorrow as the eighth round kicks off at 10 AM CST today. Earl Strickland took his first loss at the end of the night, as Gregg commented aptly that he’s “got the extension ladder on his stick.” He’ll have to face a confident and able Glenn “Piggy Banks” Rogers next, one of Chicago’s best bets in a game that is effectively native to this region. Ralf Souquet bucked the odds against KY’s John Brumback with a 5-2 victory on the hill, leaving both men without a loss to spare. “The Surgeon” will have to tackle undefeated Truman Hogue next, as the pint-sized Louisville dynamo ended the awesome start for Brandon Shuff.

“I’ve only lost one rack so far out of six matches,” Shuff said before running into Hogue. The Maryland man will have to tackle a new kind of Tennessee bear in Johnathan Pinegar, who remains undefeated after an outstanding clash with five-time All-Around champ Efren “The Magician” Reyes. Efren played an effectively flawless first rack, but “Hennessee” was not to be outdone. While Reyes smiled away early mistakes and Pinegar groused with the official, the American resolve took hold. The Filipino shot-making and defensive tactics were overcome with determination as Pinegar took the match 3 games to 1.

Reyes will have to face outstanding Derby performer Jason Miller next, who earned an impressive victory over the sharp shooting Texan Sylver Ochoa. His break bore fruit in the final game, but Miller needed to get the ball back to put together a stinging run of four banks and closed the difficult final ball deal under the hot lights of the Accustats table after a few near makes for a 5-0 win to cap a 3-1 triumph with impressive alacrity.

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Defending Banks winner Alex Pagulayan makes every table look good, and carries on without a lost meal against Charlie “The Hillbilly” Bryant, who has taken a tougher road to his place in the eighth round. After a 5-2 loss to Bustamante on the hill, Bryant sputtered and struggled through his next match, but yielded few balls in his next match. Hillbilly wanted all his old fans from Inside POOL to know “I’m back!” and that he plans to release a rental only video on his web site for a price near a Hamilton.

Accustats’ Julian Robertson cleared up some of the misconceptions about the effect of lights on the table, simply explaining that Europeans have long heated their billiards tables to maintain ubiquity of playing conditions. Regardless of that assurance, table 1 bit Scott Frost in a second loss of the event to the same man, as Dennis Orcollo moved along to pack in the “strong Filipino contingent,” to quote the absent but amazing tournament director from days of yore Scott Smith. One great comeback was made by Louis DeMarco Jr., who rose up from a two games to none deficit against underground monster Clent McCullough. Benton Harbor, MI’s Tony Coleman still lurks in the field as well, after going to work in the Friday night ring game, an odd seven-handed affair.

The upstairs has been busy too, with action picking up. A massive score was made on the Inside POOL free live HD stream by Chris Gentile and the Chicago camp over Jason “Clawhair” Kirkus and the Atlanta huddle. The Straight Pool Challenge is underway, with $8,000 minimum added and a $100 entry fee that nets 12 chances to start from a break ball and set a high mark. While Mika Immonen (twice the victor) and Darren Appleton (whose 183 last year is the best mark set yet) have contributed impressive runs since a 139 from Danny Harriman won the inaugural event in 2006, John “Mr. 400” Schmidt is looking to reclaim his two-time title and perhaps make a third breach of the 400 ball mark. The pure offense format allows great feats, and Schmidt’s 127 holds the lead at the moment, although his 249 in practice on Saturday brought more delight to spectators. It is a pool paradise, but if you come to swim with the animals, show them some respect in the cage. Quiet really helps in this game, so if you’ve heard some other stories from the event, try to keep them under your hat. The barking and woofing is not real action, pool dogs.

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