Guzman chalks up second Predator, fourth overall 2019 win
Skip Maloney
Dec. 3, 2019
l to r: Luis Carrasco, Rainer Oraa, Debra Pritchett, Akiko Taniyama, Juan Guzman & Jim Conn
l to r: Luis Carrasco, Rainer Oraa, Debra Pritchett, Akiko Taniyama, Juan Guzman & Jim Conn
Juan Guzman is, as they say, tearin’ ‘em up at the tables these days. As mentioned in a report on a Tri-State Tour stop he won in November, he’s not likely to catch up to his best earnings year to date (2016), when he won two events on the Tri-State, two on the Predator Pro Am tour, and was runner-up that year in the George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial run by both tours, but he’s making a late year run at getting closer. He won a stop on the Predator in April, seemed to take a mini-break and has since recorded two victories on the Tri-State (Oct. & Nov.) and just this past weekend, Nov.30-Dec. 1, added a Predator Pro Am Tour stop to the 2019 resume. Though he was challenged in the finals by long-time Predator competitor, Jim Conn, who won seven on the loss side to reach him, Guzman prevailed to go undefeated at the $1,000-added event which drew 60 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 
With Conn already at work on the loss side, following a defeat at the hands of Abel Barriento, Guzman advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Rainer Oraa. Luis Carrasco and Akiko Taniyama squared off in the other one. Carrasco got into the hot seat match with a 7-4 victory over Taniyama, as Guzman was busy sending Oraa west 8-6. Guzman claimed the hot seat 9-7 over Carrasco and waited for Conn to finish his loss-side run.
 
It was Oora who drew Conn, four matches into his loss-side streak, which had recently included a successful rematch against Barriento 8-6 and a 7-4 win over the tour’s #1 B+ player Matt Klein. Taniyama, a C player, drew Debra Pritchett (D+), who, going into the event, was 12 rungs above Taniyama on the tour’s top female list (#7 - #19), primarily because Pritchett had competed in about three times as many events on this year’s tour; 11 versus Taniyama’s 4.5 appearances. Pritchett had recently knocked out the tour’s #1 female player, Suzzie Wong (C) 6-4 and Euryel Castillo 7-4.
 
Taniyama defeated Pritchett 6-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Conn, who’d eliminated Oraa 8-5. Conn ended Taniyama’s bid 10-5 in those quarterfinals.
 
Conn then defeated Carrasco 9-6 in the semifinals for a shot at Guzman in the hot seat. In the extended-race-to-9 finals, Guzman reached his target 7 racks ahead of Conn to claim the event title.
 
In a 15-entrant, single elimination Second Chance event, Chulo Castro and Ambi Estevez battled to a deciding 13th game. Castro prevailed to claim the Second Chance title. Julian Tierney and Marisol Palacios tied for third place.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPT.com, The DeVito Team, Poolonthenet.com, Capelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine, Billiards Digest and his own Predator Pro Am team, to include his lovely wife, Gail. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of December 13-14, will be the tour’s final event of the year, its 2019 Tour Championships. The $4,000+-added event will, as usual, be hosted by Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY.