Aranas goes undefeated, downing ‘Klenti’ Kaci twice to claim MD State 9-Ball Title

They are, without a doubt, two of the ‘hottest’ names in pool right now; Albania’s Eklent ‘Klenti’ Kaci and the Philippines’ Zoren James Aranas. Since January of this year, the two of them have been jetting around this and other countries, winning a combined total of nine tournaments.
Kaci’s won two of those – Italy’s Dynamic Billiards Treviso Open, a stop on the Euro Tour, in March (downing Albin Ouschan in the finals) and just last week, the 8th Annual George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial in New York (defeating Lee Vann Corteza in the finals, after which, days later, he defeated Vann Corteza in an independent challenge match). Aranas got his 2018 underway in January by winning Madison, TN’s Music City Classic’s Open Division, and then travelled to Louisiana in March to win the Scotty Townsend Memorial. He chalked up three titles in April alone, travelling from Virginia, where he won the Bob Stocks Memorial, to Philadelphia, where he won the Super Billiards Expo’s Pro Am Bar Box tournament, and finally, back to Virginia to win the 2nd Annual Barry Behrman Memorial. A little over a week later, he was in Las Vegas, where he won the 1st Annual Asian Culture Day 10-Ball Open (part of Efren Reyes’ retirement tour).
None of the above takes into account the number of times each has ‘cashed’ in other events (five for Kaci and two others for Aranas). One might debate the relative importance and overall ‘strengths of field’ in those varied tournaments in which the two have competed, but the fact remains that on paper, Aranas has pocketed (as far as we know) twice as much money as Kaci in 2018, so far. Last year, though (again, as far as we know; according to our records), Kaci brought home over six times what Aranas earned in 2017.
On the weekend of June 2-3, Kaci and Aranas met twice at the Maryland State 9-Ball Championships and Aranas won both meetings to claim the title. The $1,000-added (by McDermott Cues) event drew 84 entrants to Champion Billiards in Frederick, MD.
They met first in a winners’ side quarterfinal, won by Aranas, who advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Greece’s Alex Kazakis, who got by Kaci earlier in the year, just after Kaci had won the event in Treviso, and has had his own strong measure of 2018 success. The other winners’ side semifinal saw Reymart Lim square off against Shane Albough.
Aranas got into the hot seat match 7-3 over Kazakis, and was joined by Lim, who’d sent Albough to the loss side, double hill. Aranas claimed the hot seat 7-4 and waited on the return of Kaci.
Over on the loss side, which had more than its share of top-notch talent waiting in the wings, so to speak, Kazakis picked up Brandon Shuff, who’d just won two straight double hill matches, against Eric Moore and Matt Krah. Albough had the misfortune to run into Kaci, who, following his defeat by Aranas had eliminated Ronnie Alcano, double hill, and Shaun Wilkie 7-3.
Kaci and Kazakis advanced to the quarterfinals with identical 7-4 victories over Albough and Shuff. Kaci then defeated Kazakis by the same 7-4 score in those quarterfinals, and then got even stingier with Reymart Lim, downing him 7-3 in the semifinals.
Aranas got even stingier with Kaci in their final re-match. Aranas gave up only two in claiming the Maryland State 9-Ball Championships.
Tour director Loye Bolyard thanked the ownership and staff at Champion Billiards, as well as sponsors McDermott Cues, Lights Out Billiard Apparel, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Balls, Phillippi Cues, and Navigator Tips. Bolyard also thanked the commentators and crew on the event’s Live stream, produced by BSN.