Sookhai goes undefeated to take first of last three 2018/2019 Tri-State events
Skip Maloney
Jun. 3, 2019
(l to r): Basdeo Sookhai & John Durr
(l to r): Basdeo Sookhai & John Durr
With the end of the Tri-State Tour’s 2018/2019 season a mere two weeks/events away, the end-of-season invitational picture is becoming clearer. At the conclusion of an event at Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ on Saturday, June 15th, the Tri-State Tour will assess each of six different ranking categories to determine the top 16 players in each of those categories to determine who’ll be in attendance at the season-ending  Invitational Tournament, scheduled for the weekend of June 29-30 at Steinway Billiards. Typically, in these last weeks before the Invitational Tournament every year, players in all six divisions look to solidify their spot among the final 16, which has a way of creating a few ‘bubble’ matches between players at or near the cutoff point. In some cases, players among a particular division’s top 16 are unable to attend the season-ending Invitational, opening the door to players in the 17-20 range of a given division.
 
On the weekend of June 1-2, at a $1,500-added event that drew 32 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY, Basdeo “Shawn” Sookhai solidified his place among the tour’s A/A+ players by going undefeated through the field and taking home the event title. Sookhai came into the event in 8th place among the tour’s A/A+ players and barring any catastrophic circumstances, will be invited to attend the Invitational. Geovanni Hosang, who did not compete in this most recent event, is close enough in points to overtake him for the 8th slot on the A/A+ list if he competes in one or both of the remaining two events, but Sookhai is pretty much a lock to be invited.
 
Not so with Sookhai’s opponent in the hot seat match and efinals, one John Durr, who entered the tournament right at the #16 spot on the tour’s list of B players. Just below him in the 17th spot was Pashk Gjini, whom he met in a winners’ side quarterfinal. Durr sent Gjini to the loss side 7-5 and advanced to face Kunami Chau in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Sookhai, in the meantime, who’d gotten by Lidio Ramirez (double hill), Raphael Castillo and Amir Rashad Uddin, squared off against Liran Rabin in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Sookhai moved into the hot seat match on the heels of an 8-3 victory over Rabin. Durr joined him after downing Chau 7-3. Sookhai and Durr battled to double hill before Sookhai prevailed 7-6 to claim the hot seat.
 
Over on the loss side, Rabin picked up Raphael Castillo, who’d defeated Amir Rashad Uddin 7-5 and Bob Toomey 6-2. Chau drew Michael Fedak, who’d defeated Debra Pritchett 5-2 and Luis Lopez 6-2 to reach him. Lopez had previously eliminated Pashk Gjini, who finished in the four-way tie for 9th place, which might be enough to allow him to hold on to his 17th spot among the tour’s B players and possibly, if someone among the top 16 is unable to compete in the Invitational, give him the chance to compete.
 
Castillo and Fedak handed Rabin and Chau their second straight loss; Castillo 6-3 over Rabin and Fedak 6-1 over Chau. Castillo and Fedak fought to double hill in the quarterfinals that followed before Castillo advanced to meet Durr in the semifinals.
 
Durr ended Castillo’s day 7-5 in those semifinals and then, fell to Sookhai a second time, 7-5 in the finals. In the absence of any of his fellow B players, above him on the list, Durr’s runner-up finish should notch him up a step or two on that list, certainly above Frank Sieczka, who was tied in ranking points with Durr going into the event, and did not compete.
 
Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff, along with sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, DIGICUE OB, and Hustlin’ USA. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, the second-to-last in the season, is scheduled for Sunday, June 9 at Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.