Alex Pagulayan Wins Diamond 10 Ball Challenge in Hill Hill Thriller

Alex Pagulayan (Photo courtesy of Ricky Bryant)

Friday the 27th July saw the closing matches of the Diamond 10 Ball Challenge played out in the Accu-Stats Simonis Arena. Starting with the semi final match between Alex Pagulayan and Landon Shuffett at 12 noon, and the Johnny Archer match at 4:00 pm. The final being played at 8:00 pm.

In the first semi final, Landon Shuffett sadly did not show up with the “A” game that he possessed in his first two matches, when he slaughtered John Morra 15-5, and then in the second match absolutely shut down Earl the “Pearl” Strickland 15-4.

Alex however, did show up with his “A” game and quickly stamped his fine play on the proceedings. Alex soon started putting beads on the wire and was always ahead of Landon, until “The Lion” closed it out with a score of 15-10. Alex who now found himself waiting in the wings for the final, possesses such an imaginative game and exudes so much confidence that he looks favorite to take away the first prize!

This match went back and forwards with a close score almost to the end, but Johnny - who is noted for being a grinder - poured on the pressure when it mattered and pulled away to win by three games at 15-12. Johnny who was 14-12 down to Charlie Bryant in his last match, came back and took the last three games to win that one too. 

When I arrived at the Accu-Stats Simonis Arena ten minutes early I had trouble finding a seat. The knowledgeable fans showed up in droves to watch what they hoped would be a tremendous final. Well they would not be disappointed as the match had everything from great shot making and phenomenal safety play, to exquisite kicking.

This match was nip and tuck all the way, with the match tied at 6-6, 12-12 and eventually on the hill at 14-14 with Johnny breaking, after coming back from being down 14-12. (What were we saying about his ability to grind it out!!!)

Well I guess it was not Johnny's day, when he made the 3 ball on the break, but was left with the cue ball at the bottom of the table and the 1 ball close to the side pocket. It could be made, but also looked as though there was a possible scratch in the top pocket on the same side of the table.

After taking an extension (there were two extensions of the time clock allowed to each player in the final) and much deliberation Johnny executed the shot and had to watch the cue ball head down the rail towards the top pocket. “Oh, my god came the shout from the guy sitting next to me” and similar exclamations came from all around the arena as the ball wobbled in the pocket, but did not drop. Johnny now had the expression of a man who had just had all the blood drain from his body, as the realization of any possibility of winning just going right out of the window. Yes he was hooked, and had no shot at hitting the 2 ball.

After a long look at the possibilities, Johnny elected to play a long masse in an attempt to hit the ball of the side rail. He missed by a mile and gave Alex ball in hand.

We had here somewhat of a contrast in demeanor as Johnny slumped himself back in his chair, we had Alex jumping up and down celebrating his lucky break. Alex started his run out on the 2 ball and immediately through bad position had a hard cut on the 4 ball uptown. At first it looked like Alex was going to take on the long cut on the 4 ball, but when he executed the shot he played a clever safe and locked the cue ball on the back of the 7 ball.

This was all she wrote for poor Johnny and after a few more yippees and dancing from Alex, he got down to running out the balls to get the win.

One could not help but feel sorry for Johnny who had fought back so hard and to have this happen to end his otherwise fine run almost seemed unfair.
Unfortunately that's pool for you.

This was a great final, and our congratulations go out to Alex for a great win.
To summarize on this first Diamond 10 ball Challenge played on the 10 ft tables, it looks like it was a tremendous success with both the players and definitely with the fans.