Argentina Wins Caribbean Mercantile Bank International Tournament in Aruba

Miguel Jerez, Ricardo Barrionuevo, Gabriel Acosta, Ariel Casto and Ivan Alvarado.

ORANJESTAD --- In an undisputable way, Argentina dominated the third edition of the Caribbean Mercantile Bank International Tournament in Aruba. This year's edition, dedicated to the well known Aruban billiard player Maximiliano “Monchi” Ras a.k.a. Monchi the Tiger, has had the honor of participating teams from Argentina, the U.S.A., 6 from Curacao, and 8 from Aruba, who all went in search of the US$ 8,000.00 price money.

Already in the first round it became clear to all participants that the team to beat had to be Argentina, well represented by well known players as Gustavo Espinoza, Miguel Jerez, Ariel Casto, Ivan Alvarado, and Chiqui Acosta. Undoubtedly the star player of the tournament, earning the nickname “The Machine” after a very few hours into the tournament, was Miguel Jerez who proved himself a real master of the game of 8-ball. His first match against well known former national champion Jorge Petrochi from Aruba was like a Hollywood edited movie: Miguel left Jorge 5 times with all seven balls on the table, while Jorge returned the favor 4 times in a best out of 9 match, earning Jorge the total respect from the rest of the Argentine team!! From there on, everyone who crossed the path of “The Machine” got the “chills” watching being slaughtered by “the killer from the pampas”.

After the first round the last eight teams standing in respective order of classification were 1) Britten Warriors (Aruba) with the well known players Richard Wolff and Ryan Rampersaud; 2) Smooth Stroke (Aruba) with Elvis “the bon-bon” Evertsz as captain; 3) Team Argentina; 4) Smooth Billiards with 2001 Pan-American champion, 2002 Pan-American sub-champion Ditto Acosta as captain, and featuring renown players as former Pan-American 8-ball champion and national champion Aaron “The Baron” Franken ; 5) Curacao Smooth Strokers, a young team with talented young players such as Anthony “machine gun” Wever, Brian “The One” Farah, and Fauzy “Fusil” Halabi; 6) Triple Crown (Curacao) with Johnny “The Legend” Hellmund as captain; 7) Two Guys and a Doll from U.S.A. with Orietta Strickland as captain and featuring world renown pool instructor Bert Kinister together with Bob Lehman; 8) The Unbeatable (Aruba), with promising players such as Giovanni Tromp, Marlon Tromp, and of course the well known Aruban player Jorge Petrochi.

The second (single elimination) round witnessed a marathon match between the Aruban favorites Smooth Billiards and Curacao Smooth Strokers that lasted a whopping 6 hours total! None of the opponents gave each other an inch! In an electrifying start, Brian Farah surprised Ditto Acosta in 9-ball, and Anthony Wever smashed Aaron Franken in 8-ball, giving the Curacao favorites a head start of 2-0 in a best out of 5 match!! Rensley “Psaiko” Tromp saved the day with an incredible cut on the 8 using the bridge, and kept his team in the race! In the final set, with the match tied at 2-2, Fauzy Halabi came out shooting like a world champ and totally stampeded Ditto Acosta gaining a 6-2 lead!! However, digging very deep into his years of experience, Ditto managed to take advantage of every small error in Fauzy's game to turn back the tables and win the match by a fractional 7-6 score!!

On the “other side”, all pool aficionados were enlightened by the level of play of the Argentineans who without too much effort eliminated Curacao's Triple Crown, and afterwards Aruba's Smooth Stroke! Once more the nickname “The Machine” was being whispered in the alleys of Smooth Billiards Aruba. Meanwhile, Smooth Billiards, after their gargantuan struggle against the Curacao Smooth Strokers, fell under the fury of The Britten Warriors lead by “master” Rampersaud and Richard Wolff, together with talented young Allan van Aanholt, Martin “the flying Dutchman” Appeldoorn, and Tico Geerman.

And so, after more than two days of pool, the Britten Warriors of Aruba were to face the well oiled machine from Argentina, in what was to become a real ‘nail biter' of a final! In the first set, Ariel Casto of Argentina gave a masterful display of tactical insight against the fearsome Richard Wolff of Aruba, taming “the big bad Wolff” with a 7 to 4 victory. In the second set the Aruban fans once more relished the implacable style of Miguel “The Machine” Jerez, when the latter dominated in great artistry the talented young Aruban player Allan van Aanholt with a 5 to 3 score. But, the gods of pool weren't ready yet and provided an unexpected “twist” to the match! In a very exciting duel, Arubans Ryan Rampersaud and Martin Appeldoorn gave their utmost to dominate Gustavo Espinoza and Ivan Alvarado, and with score tied at 6-6, the gods conceded a “miracle bounce” of the nine ball to Martin Appeldoorn which went from the tip of the side pocket right into the corner pocket!! With 7-6, Rampersaud and Appeldoorn kept Aruba in the race and made the Argentineans somewhat nervous, as the two names next on Aruba's list were none less then van Aanholt and Wolff!

But the frenetic Aruban fans did not count on the cunning of Chiqui Acosta whom little by little, one tactical shot after the other, crumbled the morale of Allan van Aanholt. At the crucial moment to tie the set at 4-4, Allan cuts two balls miraculously in order to reach the 8-ball, but fails to cash in on a relatively easy 8!! Smelling blood Chiqui jumps out of his chair and runs out the rack finishing the match with 5-3!!! Argentina beats Aruba 3-1 in the finals and in an euphoric state of mind uncorked emotions bottled up in more than 72 hours of tournament! Meanwhile Aruba stands disillusioned besides the table, knowing they had the faith of the match in their own hands. The third edition of the Caribbean Mercantile bank International Tournament was as great a success as ever, and ends with a well deserved champion, who for the next few days were nowhere to be found other than at the sandy white beaches of Aruba.