Guzman comes from the loss side to claim Predator Tour Championships title
Skip Maloney - AzB Staff
Dec. 6, 2016
Dec. 6, 2016
Justin Muller, Lukas Fracasso-Verner, Abel Rosario and Juan Guzman
It's been Juan Guzman's best recorded year. Playing on a combination of both the Predator and Tri-State Tours, Guzman has won two Predator events, one Tri-State event and was runner-up to Tony Liang at the annual George "Ginky" Sansouci Memorial in May. He capped his 2016 efforts with a come-from-the-loss-side win at the 9th Annual Predator Tour Championships, held on the weekend of December 3-4. The $10,000-added event drew 81 amateur entrants to Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY.
The field was restricted to Predator tour members who had appeared in at least five events during the year, and was initially split into two brackets; an upper bracket of 34 players, ranked B+ or above, and a lower bracket of 47 players, ranked B or lower. The two brackets 'met' for the first, and as it turned out, the last time in the hot seat match.
Guzman, who entered the tournament ranked third among the tour's A+ players, made it to the winners' side quarterfinals before he ran into Miguel Laboy, who entered the tournament one spot below him on that A+ Predator ranking list (#4). LaBoy defeated Guzman and advanced to a winners' side semifinal against another A+ competitor, Justin Muller (#10). Meanwhile, the tour's #1-ranked B player, Abel Rosario, squared off against the tour's #1-ranked C player, Marvin Phisitkraiyacorn in the other winners' side semifinal.
Muller and Rosario advanced to the hot seat match with identical 7-3 victories over LaBoy and Phisitkraiyacorn. Muller, having chalked up wins at the Empire State Amateur 10-Ball Championships and a Second Chance event at the 7th Annual New England Pool and Billiard Hall of Fame 9-Ball Open earlier this year, moved into the hot seat with a double hill win over Rosario and waited as Guzman worked his way back to the finals.
On the loss side, LaBoy and Phisitkraiyacorn ran into Guzman and Lukas Fracasso-Verner, respectively. Guzman had opened his loss-side run with a double hill win over Ron Gabia (#9 in the A ranks), and a 7-4 victory over Rhys Chen (#5 on that same A list) to earn his re-match versus LaBoy. Fracasso-Verner (#2 in the B rankings, behind Rosario) had eliminated Dave Callaghan (#4 in the C rankings) 7-4 and Tony Ignomirello (#4 in C+) 7-3.
Fracasso-Verner and Guzman advanced to the quarterfinals; Fracasso-Verner, with a nail-biting double hill win over Phisitkraiyacorn, and Guzman successfully countering his earlier loss with a 7-5 win over LaBoy. Guzman chalked up loss side win #4 with an 8-6 win over Fracasso-Verner in the quarterfinals, and by the same score, denied Rosario a second shot against Muller.
In the modified race to 7/9 finals, Guzman hit the "7" mark first, and added two more to claim the event title 9-6 over Muller.
The 2016 Tour Championships featured both a Second and Third Chance event, which drew 15 and 12 entrants, respectively. Gene Hunt picked up the $280 first-place prize in the Second Chance event, defeating Gary Bozigian in the finals. Josh Friedberg chalked up the Third Chance event, downing Amy Yu in the finals, and pocketing the $210 first place prize.
This being the final event of the Predator Tour's 2016 season, tour director Tony Robles offered season's greetings and best holiday wishes to all of the players and room owners who participated in the tour's 22 events. In regards to the Tour Championship event itself, he thanked Raxx Billiards' owner Holden Chin, as well as manager George Florides, and the entire staff. Thanks were also extended to the tour's sponsors - title sponsor Predator Cues, the NAPL, Ozone Billiards, PoolOnTheNet.Com, Cappelle Publishing, and Delta-13 Racks. Robles also acknowledged the continuing support and assistance of Mandy Wu (ass't TD), Irene Kim, and his "lovely wife," Gail Robles.
The 2017 Predator Tour season is scheduled to commence on January 7, at an event to be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.