Mike Miller wins Predator 9-Ball Tour Stop

August 15-16, 2009 The Predator 9-ball Tour had its 12th stop of the season at Comet Billiards in Parsippany, NJ.  Comet, which often plays host to many of the areas most sought-after events, is definitely a player favorite in the area, and Bill Haley & his staff do a great job in providing a high-quality experience for the players.

Although Comet Billiards has become a stronghold in the tri-state area since opening in 2001, it is gaining even more notoriety as the home of the Accu-Stats Arena.  Pat Fleming and his team streamed feature matches live on the web all weekend for pool fans all over the world to watch--for free!  You can also watch recordings of this event on the Accu-Stats video homepage via Ustream.

Kicking off the event at 1pm in the arena, Shaun Wilkie and Matt Krah were matched up in the first round.  This set would go hill-hill, with Shaun overcoming Matt in the final game.  Krah would take a surprisingly early exit, being defeated by Oscar Bonilla, 8-4 two matches later.  Oscar would then take his match against John Alicea hill-hill, but came short to bow out early as well.

There was no shortage of killers at this event, with Shaun Wilkie, George San Souci, Joey Kong, WPBA pro Liz Ford, Sean "Alaska" Morgan, Mike Fingers, Bobby Blackmore, John Alicea, and Jerry Tarantola all in attendance, making it a good warm-up for Turning Stone.  You can check out our photo gallery from Day 2 at this event... click here.

Although this event drew many of the tour regulars, there were also some newcomers to the tour at Comet, including Team DMIRO Tour Director, Mike Andrews.  Alongside Allen Hopkins, Mike founded Team DMIRO (which stands for Don't Miss It Run Out), a new nation-wide pro-am tour set to debut at Eastside Billiards on August 29-30. Check it out at www.teamdmiro.com.  

It is interesting to note that another tour newbie, Richie Vazzano, had taken a 40-year hiatus from pool before competing in this event.  Not only had Richie not competed since the 60's, but he is also blind in one eye--which didn't stop him from finishing in 13-16th place.  He had impressive wins over Brian Hunter, John McCole, and Jason Michas, before falling to Shaun Wilkie.

Also making an appearance at this event was PA's, Mike Miller.  Mike is currently ranked #8 on the Blaze Tour, but this was only his second-ever Predator event, having finished 8th at the 2008 Empire State Championships.  However, Mike made quite a statement at Comet, going through Saturday undefeated, with wins over ChristIan Smith (8-5), Richie Vazzano, Raj Vannala (8-3), and Pete Ziemak (8-3).

On Day 2 of this event, Mike faced tour owner Tony Robles. On Saturday, Tony had hill-hill wins over Al Lapena and Joey Kong in the first two rounds, and then defeated Mark Finkelstein 8-2.  In the last match featured on Accu-Stats on Saturday night, he dominated "Alaska" Sean Morgan by a score of 8-3.  "The Silent Assasin" also easily handled Mike Miller with a 9-4 finish.

Leading the bottom of the winner's bracket, Ginky SanSouci was in full force, defeating Jeremy Sossei (8-6), John Alicea (8-6), and Dennis Spears (8-4). Ginky then took on Israeli up-and-comer Zion Zvi, remaining in top form to win 9-3.  Although this was only Zion's third stop on the Predator Tour, he has made a big impression, winning his first event at Eastside Billiards, and finishing second to Mika Immonen at Amsterdam Billiards.

This set the hot seat match for Robles vs San Souci under the lights of the Accu-Stats Arena.  Ginky took an early 3-1 lead, Tony struggling with the break and Ginky took advantage of this.  Tony forged a recovery to trail by one game at 5-4, but, he still couldn't seem to get into rhythm, and Ginky went on to get to the hill at 8-5.  

However, none of the following racks were very straightforward, and they battled back and forth between safeties. Tony edged forward and came through with some clutch shots to win the next 3 games and go hill-hill. In the final rack, both players made a couple unusual errors, but Ginky redeemed himself, kicking in the 3 ball after he got hooked behind the 7 ball, and running out to win a spot in the finals.

Meanwhile, Joey Kong and Shaun Wilkie faced off after battling their way to the final four on the one-loss side.  Joey had Shaun in a 4-0 lead, but Shaun came back to test "King Kong" and pull ahead to win 9-7.  Shaun had fought hard on the previous night in a nail-biter against "Alaska" Sean Morgan, which came to a 6-6 tie, with the following racks going into safety battles.  With Shaun on the hill, Alaska nearly tied it with a 2-9 combo, but it rattled out, and Shaun came with a strong runout to win the set.

Also making it to the final four on the one-loss side was Victor Nau, who had hill-hill wins over Mike Fingers and Greg McAndrews, and a 8-3 win over Wali Muhammed.  Victor's run was ended by Al Lapena, who dominated the match, 9-2.  Al also took out Liz Ford (8-1), Ben Sadowski (8-4), Raj Vannala (8-2), Mhet Vergara (8-2), and Dennis Spears (8-2).

Lapena was finally tested by Mike Miller in the following match, with Miller overcoming the Filipino powerhouse in the hill-hill game.  Zion Zvi also pulled through to take out Shaun Wilkie with a close 9-7 win.   This set up Miller and Zvi to determine the winner of the one-loss bracket.  

In this set, Miller dominated from the very start, with a 4-1 lead.  In fact, it looked like Miller would run away with the match, continuing on to lead 7-2, but Zion wouldn't give up so easily.  Although Miller shortly got to the hill, Zvi turned on the heat to come 8-7, but Miller closed out the win at 9-7.

This sent Mike Miller to the Accu-Stats Arena for a rematch with Tony Robles once again, for the semi-final.  However, this match went very differently than their earlier set.  In almost every rack, Tony and Mike both broke the 9 ball out and sitting near the bottom left pocket.  However, Tony struggled to sink a ball on the break, preventing him from gaining momentum.  Mike stayed focused and determined, winning the set 9-4.

The name of the game for "Maniac Mike" Miller at Comet was "fast and loose."  As you will see if you watch the Accu-Stats recordings, Mike moved around the table with ease and total confidence, and this approach propelled him straight through to the finals at the Predator Tour.

In the final match, which would be a single race to 11, Ginky was awaiting Mike Miller in the hot seat.  Maintaining his momentum from the semi-final, Miller had a swagger as he stepped around the table.  However, Ginky was not about to be pushed over, he and Mike traded games, keeping the score close.  

With a 5-5 tie, Ginky broke dry, leaving Mike to run out for the lead.  Ginky returned with a runout after Mike missed a thin cut on the two, tying the score again 6-6.  After alternating safes and kicks in game 13, Ginky gets an open shot and runs out, leading 7-6.  

In rack 14, Mike broke and ran out to tie it again at 7-7.  In the following rack, Ginky looked to have the runout, but made a fatal position error on the 7.  He played safe, but it wasn't quite good enough, as Mike sliced in the 7 ball from the far side of the table.  In the following game, Mike crushed the rack again, and ran out a challenging layout to lead 9-7.  

Ginky broke next and had a good chance to get back in the set with a shot on the one.  Surprisingly, Ginky did not get where he hoped on the 3, made a tough cut, but had an even tougher shot on the 4.  He attempted to back-cut the 4 ball, but was unsuccessful, allowing Mike to runout to the hill.

On the hill, Mike demolished the rack again, dropping the 1 and 2.  He was left in a tough spot on the 3 however, with the cue up table and the 3 near the head spot.  He cut in the 3, and the cue bounced off the rail and kissed into the 9, into the side rail, then into the 9 again ending up stuck with the 9 blocking his path to the 4.  This does not phase him in the least, as he broke out his broke out his jump cue again and popped the 4 ball in the corner to run out the rack and win the match.

Congratulations to Mike Miller, for pulling out all the stops for a tremendous win at Comet Billiards!