Final Four Left at U.S. Open 9-Ball
U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships / Virginia Beach, VA
Only four players remain at the 37th U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships, and Sunday will reveal who will take home the $25,000 first-place prize.
Darren Appleton will not be taking home his third consecutive Open win. After his fourth-round loss to Efren Reyes in a grueling hill-hill match, the Brit put in a strong showing on the one-loss side. He ousted Hao Xiang Han 11-2, Oscar Dominguez 11-9, Earl Strickland 11-8, Corey Deuel 11-3, and Johnny Archer 11-7.
But recent China Open victory Dennis Orcollo was waiting for him. Orcollo made the final eight winners before becoming another victim of Reyes 11-7. With an 11-8 defeat of He Wen Li, Orcollo then faced Appleton. Orcollo held a 3-1 and then a 6-2 lead over Appleton and never relinquished it. Though Appleton pulled within a rack at 7-6, Orcollo then shot ahead to win the match 11-7.
The undefeated Shane Van Boening, the 2007 Open champ, remains virtually untested in this event. His closest call came in the sixth round in his match against former world 9-ball champion Ronnie Alcano, where he eked out an 11-10 win. In the following round Van Boening faced down another Filipino, Jose Parica, whom he bested 11-5.
Van Boening’s opponent in the hot seat Sunday will be 2005 Open winner Alex Pagulayan. “The Lion” has had a number of close matches throughout the event, including a double-hill win over Daryl Peach and an 11-9 win over fellow countryman Santos Sambajon Jr. An 11-7 score over Johnny Archer put Pagulayan in the final four on the winners’ side, where he met Reyes. “The Magician” put up a good fight, but Pagulayan overpowered him 11-5.
The final four on the west side at the end of the evening came down to four Filipinos. Fired up from his win over Appleton, Orcollo went on to face Parica. “The Leader of the Filipino Invasion” held an early 2-1 lead, but it wasn’t long before Orcollo erased that to surge ahead. He only allowed Parica two more racks before taking their match 11-4.
The final match of the evening was a nail-biter. Alcano took a small lead over Reyes and drew ahead to 5-2. But Reyes fought back, winning the next six racks in a row to make it 8-5. Then it was Alcano’s turn to claw his way back, and the score was knotted at 9-all. It was “The Magician” who pulled the final two racks out of his hat to win 11-9 and return to face Orcollo Sunday.
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