‘Paquito’ Diaz takes title in Spain

Francisco Diaz

Despite the EPBF banning  their top players from taking part in this event due to the Qatar tournament taking place at the same time, a classy field including the likes of 3rd in the 2007 World Pool Championships, Karl Boyes turned up for a tilt at the $15,000 first prize.

For the second year running the title stayed in Spain but, only just, as Manuel Gama of Portugal was edged out in a thrilling final which finished 11-10 in favour of the Spaniard who is known for his fast play and shares the nickname “Tornado” with Tony Drago of Malta.

Francisco “Paquito” Diaz had breezed through the preliminary rounds with victories of 8-6 over Irish visitor Paddy Mcloughlin, 8-4 with Juan Antonio Sanchez, a similar scoreline with Francisco Sanchez to find himself in the final stage of 32 participants.
In this phase of the tournament, Diaz saw off the challenge of Antonio Gomez by 9 racks to 4 followed by a 9-5 victory over Ivan Parra, another 9-5 win over Rafael Guzman and in the semi finals took out one of the favourites, Carlos Cabello by 9 racks to 3.

Manuel Gama, who had travelled from neighbouring Portugal for this event had wins of 8-1, 8-2 before suffering defeat in the preliminaries at the hands of Spain's Carlos Cabello. On the losers side he faced up to Kilt wearing Pat Holtz of Scotland in the qualifying match. Pat, who was not playing his best 9 Ball, let Gama through with an 8-5 victory.

Gama then faced some tough opposition in the last 32, after a first round win over  Ignacio Schmidt by 9-5, he then came up against Jonni Fulcher of Scotland who fell by the wayside after an “awesome“, (in Jonni's words) performance, seeing off the challenge of the former Eurotour winner by 9 racks to 3. In the quarters, a close run race with the Dutch player Huidji See, saw Gama take the win by one rack, 9-8. A semi final match between the Portuguese player and the stylish Rico Diks of Holland, who was making a rare appearance in a tournament, having dedicated the past three years to his band “The Pressure Room” at the expense of pool, had all the ingredients for a great match. Rico  looked to be cruising towards the final with wins of 8-1, 8-2, 8-0, 9-1, 9-2 and 9-6 but suddenly fell apart in the semi final and bowed out of the tournament with a 9-3 loss to Gama.

The International 9 Ball tournament is held each year and is the closing event of the Spanish National Championships where 17 tournaments are disputed involving all levels and both sexes of Spanish Players.

One of the surprises of the week was the 9-1 thrashing of Spain's top player David Alcaide who is currently ranked 7th in Europe, by 16 year old Francisco Sanchez in the final of the Spanish 9 Ball Championship.

Francisco who had previously defeated two other former champions in the run up to the final, next goes to Germany in August to represent his country in the European Junior Championships.