Alan Rolon wins in Puerto Rico

Yauco, Puerto Rico - Players Sport and Family Entertainment Center is hosted their 2nd Grand Tournament of the year on Sunday, May 25th, 2003. Fernando Calvo, owner and proprietor of the place also known as "Players de Yauco" was extremely happy with the results of "1st Players Puerto Rico 9 Ball Championship." The event hosted 18 of the top players of Puerto Rico and the Region.

Edgardo "Puruco" Ramirez, Gabriel "Guelo" Rosa, Nelson Rivera, Miguel Torres, Efraín "Evangelista" Morales, Javier "Javi" Perez, Luis Lasalle, Edwin "Guimo" Garcia, Rafael Kilgore, Enrique Montalvo, Alan Rolón, Antonio Perez, Jason Cruz, Ramon Perez, Juan "Papín" Rodriguez, Leonides "Nide" Vázquez, Jose Feliciano and Francisco Pintado rounded up the field for the Tournament. Races were first to 7, single elimination.

Many of these players are well known, and others are up and coming but they all proved to be forces to reckon with in future 9 Ball events in Puerto Rico. Some of these up and coming players gave their best performances and were victorious against some of the top notch players, thus giving some pleasant surprises to themselves and to the fans who gathered to watch the event.

Edwin "Guimo" Garcia was the first to dispatch a well-known player of Puerto Rico. "Guimo" as everyone knows him defeated Juan "Papín" Rodriguez, a top 5 player in the first round. Edwin came out strong and lead the series 5 to zip before "Papín" gathered himself and won 2 straight games but "Guimo's" performance proved too much and he won the next 2 to win the series with a convincing score of 7-2. Edwin, who is a devastating 8-ball player, has proved to be an excellent contender in 9 ball. Edwin definitely has to be in the "watch" list of the top players in Puerto Rico.

Miguel Torres, from San Sebastian, Puerto Rico also proved to be a great up and coming player. Miguel was trailing 5-2 against Luis Lasalle and then found himself in a tight spot with the score 6-3 in favor of Lasalle, but the score did not demoralize his game and Miguel started a slow comeback bringing the score 6-6 for the final game. It seemed that Miguel was going to go out of the tournament when Luis Lasalle, failed to pocket a long shot on the 9 ball, rattling it in the pocket, and leaving Miguel with an easy shot. The Pool Gods had favored Miguel, and now he was in line to continue in the tournament.

Other first round results:

Antonio Perez vs. Francisco Pintado 7-3, Rafi Kilgore vs. Jose Feliciano 7-5, Nelson Rivera vs. Gabriel Rosa 7-6, Javier Perez vs. Leonides Vázquez 7-6, Efraín Morales vs. Enrique Montalvo 7-2, Jason Cruz vs. Ramon Perez 7-4, Alan Rolón vs. Rafi Kilgore 7-2, and Edgardo Ramirez vs. Antonio Perez 7-4

The next round had Edwin "Guimo" Garcia vs. Jason Cruz, Miguel Torres against Alan Rolón, and Nelson Rivera against Efraín "Evangelista" Morales. Edwin, Miguel and Nelson had just found themselves playing against 3 of the top 5 players in Puerto Rico.

Jason came out super strong against "Guimo", having a lead of 6-0 but all of the sudden Guimo was definitely into the game. Edwin won 4 straight games to bring the score 6-4 and was running his 5th rack when he rolled the cue ball too far down the table, almost scratching, leaving the cue ball hanging, hiding behind that corner pocket and with no view whatsoever of the 9 ball that could have been easily pocketed if the Pool Gods had not abandoned Edwin in that crucial shot. Edwin tried to jump the ball but made no contact thus leaving Jason with an easy ball in hand.

Miguel Torres now had to face Alan Rolón, a 5-time National Champ but that did not distract him from concentrating and giving his best. Miguel and Alan exchanged wins until the score was 4-3 in favor of Alan. Then Alan won 2 games straight to put himself on the hill. With the score 6-3 in favor of Alan, Miguel made another miraculous run to tie the score 6-6. Miguel was on the table and almost had the win in his hands. He missed a 6 ball (rattled in the corner) while trying to get position for the 7 ball. If he had not missed that ball, he would have eliminated Alan, and would have given the biggest upset of the night. Needless to say, Miguel will be a force to reckon with in the future.

Nelson Rivera, also from San Sebastian, PR, proved to be a great contender against Edgardo "Puruco" Ramirez, known as the "People's Champ" of Puerto Rico. Ramirez is a 2-time National Champ, and the most respected player of them all. Nelson, who won his first round set after trailing 6-4 against Gabriel "Guelo" Rosa, found himself in a similar situation against "Puruco." The score was 3-1 in favor of "Puruco" when Nelson shifted to high gear and tied the score 4-4. Nelson then proceeded to keep his game in place and defeated the "People's Champ" 7 to 5. Nelson has just given everyone a reason to think about him for future events.

Efraín "Evangelista" Morales defeated Javier Perez 7-6 in which the match was pretty much even between themselves. Javier lead the set until Evangelista tied at 4-4, then Javier tied at 5-5 and 6-6. Evangelist won the set 7-6 to go to the Semi-Finals.

All 2nd Round results:

Efraín Morales vs. Javier Perez 7-6, Jason Cruz vs. Edwin Garcia 7-4, Alan Rolón vs. Miguel Torres 7-6, Evangelista

Last 4 players in the money….

In the money round, Nelson Rivera was now facing another great player of Puerto Rico named Efraín "Evangelista" Morales, who has several National titles and was member of Team Puerto Rico, when the Camel and Pro Billiards Tour were partners a few years ago. Nonetheless, Nelson was not intimidated. At one time he was leading 5-2 only to begin feeling the heat that "Evangelista" was putting on. Evangelista found a way to tie the game 5-5, momentarily find himself behind 6-5, only to tie again at 6 a piece, and putting the final boil to win 7-6 against Nelson. The pressure put on by Evangelista certainly had an effect on Nelson but his performance was well an average player. Beware everyone; Nelson will be a great contender in future events. For his extraordinary efforts, Nelson placed 3rd in the event for $100.

It was now the turn of Jason Cruz vs. Alan Rolón. Jason, 20 years old, a strong top 5 player with two 3rd place finishes in the BCA Junior Nationals, two ACUI Collegiate Championships and a runner-up this year, currently ranked number 1 in Puerto Rico was certainly a match against Alan, a 5-time National Champ, who has won 4 National Titles consecutively. The game started even at 1 game each but then all of a sudden Alan found his most unbelievable game and was pounding Jason rack after rack, basically not letting Jason shoot or giving him any chance to bring up his own game. All Jason could do was lay back, smile, and watch Alan put wins after win until he was ahead 6-1. In the last rack, Alan broke and sunk the 9, throwing away any hope that Jason may have had to make a comeback. Alan, who almost lost his prior match against Miguel Torres, was not going to risk anything against Jason Cruz. Jason placed 3rd in the event together with Nelson Rivera won $100 for his efforts.

The Championship

Immediately after dispatching Jason from contention for the title, the final match for the Championship was set up between Alan and Efraín. These two have battled each other on countless occasions and have more titles between each other than all remaining PR Players combined…. and once again they were facing each other for another Title. Alan broke ahead 2-0 before allowing Efraín to win the next game to put the score 2-1. After that win from "Evangelista", the "guiding lights" shifted to Alan's favor to put the score 6-1. Evangelista put up one more win, to then watch Alan make a 2-9 combo to end the final game and proclaim himself as the Players Puerto Rico 9-Ball Champion.

Efraín "Evangelista" Morales placed 2nd for $250 and Alan as the Champ won $500, a beautiful $300 Lucasi cue, a Hotel Stay, and the Championship plaque.

Special Mention: Cue and Case provided a Lucasi Cue for the Champion and some very fine Polo shirts for two tournament assistants. Special thanks to Jim Lucas, President of Cue & Case Sales, Inc., for those wonderful gifts.

Congratulations to all the players, fans and guest for being such wonderful company during this great tournament.

The tournament was held in a non-smoking, non-alcoholic, and Family environment to the favor of many "Players Sport and Family Entertainment" patrons, players and guests. Mr. Fernando Calvo, proprietor has definitely put up a clean atmosphere for anyone to bring family members along.