Cheng comes back from semifinals to win second Tri-State stop

Carl Yusuf Khan, Billy Cheng and Dave Shlemperis

It was Billy Cheng's second official victory on the Tri-State Tour, but the first in which he battled an opponent in the finals. Back in April, Cheng was the winner of record when he and Raul Reyes opted out of a final match because it was set to commence at 4 a.m. on Easter Sunday morning. Eight months later, on Saturday, December 3, Cheng had to play an extra match when Carl Yusuf Khan kept him out of the hot seat, but returned to defeat Khan in the finals and chalk up the "W." The $1,250-added event drew 44 entrants to Gotham City Billiards in Brooklyn, NY.

Following victories over Samson Kelly, Raphael DaBreo, Tien "Max" Tran, and Joei Huang, Cheng moved among the winners' side final four to face Kapriel Delimelkonoglu. Khan, in the meantime, squared off against Vincent Morris. Cheng downed Delimelkonoglu 7-5, as Khan was busy sending Morris west 7-3. Khan won his last match by prevailing in the battle for the hot seat 7-4, and waited for Cheng's return.

Morris and Delimelkonoglu moved to the loss-side and lasted only a single round. Morris picked up Gary Murgia, who'd defeated Duane Toney 7-2 and Joei Huang 7-5 to reach him. Delimelkonoglu had the misfortune of running into Dave Shlemperis, who, like Cheng, had been sent west by Khan, and was working his way back with a re-match on his mind. Shlemperis got by Ben Cateneros 7-5 and Andrzej Kaldan 7-6 to face Delimelkonoglu, and then survived a double hill match against him to get into the quarterfinals. He was joined by Murgia, who'd defeated Morris, also double hill.

In what was a second straight double hill match for both of them, it was Shlemperis prevailing over Murgia in those quarterfinals to meet Cheng in the semifinals. Both Shlemperis and Cheng were looking for a second crack against Khan, and it was Cheng who earned it with a 7-3 victory.  

Khan took the first two games of the single, race-to-9 final match, and Cheng took the next two. They traded racks to a 5-5 tie, at which point, Cheng took a two-rack lead. Khan came back to win one more, before Cheng won the last two. He sunk the 9-ball on the break in the final game to capture the event title.

Tour representatives thanked Kevin and Isabel Buckley of Gotham Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Sterling-Gaming, Ozone Billiards, Ron Tarr Cues, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, and Human Kinetics. Next stop on the Tri-State Tour is scheduled for Saturday, December 10, at Castle Billiards in East Rutherford, NJ.