Lee Vann Corteza Captures Southern Classic 9-Ball

By midday on Saturday, June 29, the 84 entrants in the Southern Classic 9 Ball event were down to the last six players standing. 

Phil Burford (UK) beat Carlo Biado (Phi) in a tough match that started out looking like a Biado-fest, as the 22 year old Burford found himself on the wrong side of a 5-1 score line. Patience was a virtue here as not only did Burford come to run a five pack, but pecked away until he reversed the earlier lopsided score to take down the match 9-8.

The 4:00 pm TV match was between Lee Vann Corteza (Phi) and Warren Kiamco (Phi). This match saw Corteza looking like the man to beat as he always stayed ahead of Mr. Kiamco throughout the match, and finally won the match at  9-7. It should be noted that Kiamco did not have his ’A’ game with him on the last day of the tournament, which may have been due to the arduous schedule of the two back to back tournaments over the last thirteen days.

Dennis Orcollo (Phi) and Niels Feijen (Ned) found themselves locked at hill-hill, with Feijen running out the rack, when he suddenly scratched on a simple bank to hand the match to Dennis Orcollo.

We now had three players left in the event with Dennis getting the Bye. This put Phil Burford up against Lee van Corteza to find out who would play Mr. Orcollo in the final. It should be noted that the winner of this match would have to beat Dennis twice to secure the title due to Dennis still having a buy back.

This match will not be memorable for Mr. Burford, other than the excessive amount of time he spent in his chair. Lee Van went up 2-0 after a couple of back and forth racks with a few safety plays from both parties. Then Mr. Corteza found the sweet spot with his break, and went on a break and run spree to put the score at 8-0 in his favor.

The stars were aligned with Lee Vans break, as he repeatedly parked the cue ball in the middle of the table and always had a great shot on the 1 ball. At 8-0 he surprisingly missed a 2 ball that rattled in the bottom corner pocket, allowing the fans to see Mr. Burford showcase his talents for at least one rack.

In the next game Burford broke and made the 1 ball on the break only to have no shot on the 2 ball. He elected to jump with his full length cue and missed. Mr. Corteza pounced on this mistake and took the final rack to put the score at 9-1.

This developed an all-Filipino final with everybody wondering if Mr. Corteza would be able to bring his break and run game from his previous match with Mr. Burford. Well this match went back and forth with Lee Van only being ahead once at 4-3 before Dennis forged ahead to a 7-5 lead.

Mr. Corteza then suddenly caught a gear and took off taking the next four games to beat Dennis twice with a 9-7 score line. Congratulations to Lee Van Corteza on a great win in the second running of the Southern Classic 9 ball event.

It should be noted that four of the last six players were Filipino, a testament to a combination of their skills and their determination to get into the winning circle. In addition, Alex Pagulayan won the banks Division and veteran Francisco Bustamante won the Banks Ring Game. and came in second in the One Pocket.

Thank you to all the staff of Diamond Billiards, and Tournament Directors Jay Helfert and Ken Shuman, and Pat Fleming and the Accu-Stats crew for putting on a great event.  Last and not least a big thank you to Harrah’s Casino and Hotel for hosting yet another successful Southern Classic Tournament.