Chang Takes Advantage of Aranas Mistakes to Win Diamond Las Vegas Open
Keith Paradise - CSI Media Staff Writer
Mar. 15, 2020
Mar. 15, 2020
Chang Jung-Lin (Courtesy JP Parmentier - Cue Sport International)
Jung-Lin Chang stood at the table Saturday night, clinging to a 6-5 lead. His opponent, James Aranas of the Philippines, had won four of the last five racks to shave Chang’s lead down to a single game. With Chang controlling the break, he could either increase his lead or let Aranas all the way back into the match.
“I didn’t think too much because it was my break,” Chang said. “After that, I had a chance to run out.”
Chang took full advantage of the opportunity, as the powerful player from Chinese Taipei ran out and then used a handful of unforced errors by Aranas down the stretch to win the four of the final six games and claim the Diamond Las Vegas Open championship at Rio Hotel and Casino. Chang’s 9-5 victory in the finals avenged an earlier 7-4 loss to the previously unbeaten Aranas the finals on the winner’s side of the bracket.
“(Aranas) made a lot of mistakes on some easy shots and that allowed me to get more points,” Chang said after the match.
The Filipino opened the title match by using a victorious safety exchange to run out and take an early lead. Aranas appeared positioned to tack another rack onto his lead in the second game but misplayed position on the 9 ball, rolling the cue ball into the blocking 10 ball. He missed a kick shot on the object ball and Chang seized on the opportunity, using two breaks and runs along with an Aranas scratch on the break to build a 5-1 lead in a race to nine.
“In the final I wasn’t comfortable,” Aranas said.
The Filipino broke and ran in the seventh game to cut the deficit to three games and closed the gap even more when Chang missed a jump shot on the 4 ball in the following rack. Aranas appeared to be on the verge of slicing the lead down to one game but missed a makeable 8 ball in the corner pocket.
“That was the chance for me to get closer,” said Aranas. “I was thinking about the shot clock and I was kind of like rushing and I missed it.”
Chang cleared the table to push the lead to 6-3 but the Filipino continued to battle, taking advantage of a dry break by his opponent and adding a break-and-run to again narrow the gap to one game. Chang, who won the 2018 International Open, broke and ran in the 12th game, gutted out a win in the following game and closed out the match in the 14th rack when Aranas overran position on the 3 ball and ultimately overcut the shot.
“The most important thing of all is mentality. You have to go through the pressure,” said Chang. “The last thing is the gods. The gods give you something, you take it.”
The second-place finish is one of Aranas’s best in a 128-player tournament with an international field. The Filipino, who is reigning Super Billiards Expo 10 ball champion, opened the event with three consecutive 7-5 victories against Rory Hendrickson, Chris Melling and Maximillian Lechner. After defeating Ian Costello, 7-3, Aranas worked his way past Justin Bergman, 7-5, then jumped out to a 6-1 lead against Ralf Souquet only to see the German battle back and cut the lead to one. During a lengthy safety exchange with Souquet in the final game, the Filipino jumped in the 1 and 2 balls then ran out the rack to secure the match.
“Ralf is such a great player, he’s a legend to me,” Aranas. “It’s hard to give him a chance to get back on the table.”
Aranas then advanced to face Chang in their first matchup of the way, using two breaks and runs and a dry break from his opponent to jump out to an early 4-0 lead. After Chang used two breaks and runs and a scratch on the break by the Filipino to narrow the gap to 4-3, Aranas cleared the table in the eighth game then took advantage of two dry breaks by Chang to close out the match.
“I’m proud of myself for what I’ve done,” said Aranas. “This is probably the first time I’ve come this close in an event like this. This was a big opportunity for me.”
Justin Bergman is adamant that he didn’t play well during the event. Whatever game he did have was good enough for third place, as the young man from Illinois gutted his way past opponents until fatigue took its toll.
After a 7-4 decision against Kengo Suzuki in the opening round, Bergman took down John Morra, 7-5; Ta-Li Lin, 7-1 and Ko Pin-Yi, 7-5. After falling to Aranas 7-5 late early Saturday morning around 2 a,m., Bergman grabbed about an hour of sleep and was back at the table Saturday morning at 10 a.m. He gutted out back-to-back hill-hill matches against Corey Deuel and Poland’s Karol Skowerski before taking down Chris Robinson, 7-4. Now playing in the quarterfinals on the one-loss side, Bergman split the first six games with Souquet before a missed 5 ball by the German in the seventh game opened the floodgates.
“I changed my mind right before the shot,” said Souquet. “That basically threw me off completely afterwards. It wasn’t a tough runout, I just needed good shape on the 6 ball and, for whatever reason, I changed my mind.”
Bergman cleared the table to take a 4-3 lead, then took advantage of a couple additional missed shots by Souquet to close out the match, 7-3. His luck – and energy – would run out in the next round against Chang as he failed to pocket a ball on the break in his first three attempts. Chang built a commanding 6-0 then held off a late rally by his opponent, ultimately winning 7-3.
“I wasn’t comfortable and he’s such a great player, you have to do everything perfect to beat him,” Bergman said.
It was a turn-back-the-clock weekend for the 51-year-old Souquet, who used his first trip to American soil in 2020 to land a fourth-place finish. After an opening round forfeit by his opponent, the German rattled off four straight wins to reach the final four on the winner’s side before falling to Aranas. Souquet then defeated Ko Pin-Yi on the one-loss side of the bracket before falling to Bergman.
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