Manalo Makes it Happen

Marlon Manalo (File photo courtesy of Tom Suarez)

The 2009 Seminole Pro Tour season found its conclusion at the beautiful Strokers Billiards in Palm Harbor Florida this weekend. The 8th and final stop of the season delivered a field littered with world champion caliber talent. The usual SPT competitors included Corey Deuel, Donnie Mills, Mike Davis, Justin Hall, Tony Crosby and Stevie Moore. Added in the mix was none other than Filipino superstar, Marlon Manalo.

The 37 player field that arrived in Palm Harbor, also provided a thrilling finish to the race for player of the year honors. After every event, the players are rewarded points for their position in the tournament. At the end of the season, the Seminole Pro Tour awards $1,000 in prize money to the points leader as well as $500 to the runner up. With only 80 points separating first place and fifth place coming in to the event, the title was up for grabs. Everyone knew that the battle for player of the year, and the $1,000 prize money would come down to the final day's action.

In the hunt was Mike Davis who was in second place coming into the event. He trailed Tony Crosby by the slimmest of margins; a meager 5 points. Davis however struggled with the early play schedule, and was eliminated by Jerry Calderon 7-6. Tony Crosby lost a key match at the end of day 1 against Donnie Mills. At the beginning of the second day he would have to face off against his nearest contender for player of the year Stevie Moore. Stevie would take control of the match early and overcame Crosby by a final score of 8-1. However his quest for player of the year would end in his next match against Jerry Calderon by a score of 8-3.

The final contender for player of the year was Corey Deuel. If he'd had won the tournament he would have captured the lead by 10 points and made it three years in a row as player of the year. However, young Justin Hall put an end to his hopes in a great match against Deuel 8-4. With Deuel's loss Tony Crosby secured the player of the year title plus the $1000 prize money. Second place money went to Stevie Moore.

On the winner's side of the event, Strokers champion from two years ago, Marlon Manalo was making a tear straight through to the hot seat match. Not wanting to dissapoint his supporters Manalo had impressive wins over James Roberts 7-1, Stevie Moore 7-3, Corey Deuel 8-3, and Robert Aravena 8-4.

Donnie Mills would come through the second half of the winner's side bracket with great wins over Raul Alvarez 7-3, Tony Crosby 8-2, and Justin Hall 8-3. The hot seat match was a great one. Mills would take an early lead in the match 4-2. Manalo's championship resolve would lead him to charge back and recapture the lead at 5-4. Manalo and Mills would exchange the next two racks to bring the score to 6-5. Mills would step up the table in the next game and show his caliber. Coming with an incredible shot on the seven, Donnie was able to run that rack and the next two. In doing so Donnie captured the hot seat and a shot at the championship title.

Manalo on the loser's side would have to ward off young gun and Seminole Pro Tour favorite Justin Hall. Hall was down the duration of the match, at one point by a score of 5-1. But the young gun caught fire and started reeling off racks against the philipino juggernaut. Bringing his deficit to only one game at 7-6 Justin was within striking distance. With Manalo on the hill, Hall came with a tough carom and subsequently followed the cue-ball into the corner. The cold roll gave Marlon ball in hand and an easy run out for the win. Hall finished in 3rd position and pocketed $1,500 for his efforts.

The finals would pit the odds on favorite for the event Marlon Manalo against Clearwater's own Donnie Mills. Manalo jumped out to an early 3-0 lead at the beginning of the set. Mills would return fire by winning the next two games. While breaking in the 6th game, Donnie hung the ten ball and came up dry. This left an easy 2-10 combination for Marlon. The 4-2 lead was further extended after Mills missed a very makeable ten in the corner. Marlon capitalized on this fatal error and never looked back. The Filipino champion broke and ran the next two racks reaching the hill at 8-2. Mills would win the next game closing the gap to 8-3. Donnie looked good in the last rack as well but after hanging the 5, it was all over but the handshake. Mills conceded the final ten and the title to “The Marvelous One”. Manalo pockets his third Seminole Pro Tour title and $3,000 for first place. Donnie claims a cool $2,000 for his efforts and a beautiful runner up trophy.

The final event this year is the all prestigious Steve Mizerak State Championship held at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood Florida. This will be a $40,000 added event that will take place on November 12-15. Come out and enjoy some of the best pool on earth compliments of the Seminole Pro Tour.

We'd love to thank Jose Delrio and the courteous staff of Strokers Billiards in Palm Harbor for their incredible support of this event. This is always a great event and seems to be packed with the best players in the world. We'd also like to thank our main sponsors the Seminole Tribe of Florida for their continued promotion of the game of 10 ball. Thank you to Matt Highsmith of for providing amazing streaming of the event. Fred Stoll of for providing some wonderful photography. Thank you also to Javier and Angel Chirino from “A Touch of Glass” for supplying some amazing trophies.