Piedrabuena Captures 4th National USBA 3-Cushion Championship

Pedro Piedrabuena, Hugo Patino and Frank Torres

Forty-Two of the best 3-cushion players in the country met in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Tropicana Resort & Casino for the USBA National Championship Tournament, May 9-13, 2011. The event was held alongside the Lucasi Hybrid American Cue Sports (ACS) National Pool Championships. Thanks to ACS Executive Director, John Lewis, and also to Paul Frankel and Professor-Q-Ball Promotions.

The event was played on six brand-new, beautiful, top-of-the-line Gabriels Imperators carom tables. Specially designed for championship play, these 5'x10' heated tables boast a newly-design hybrid rail system.

This was only the second time that the USBA National Championship was held outside of a poolroom," commented Paul "Professor-Q-Ball" Frankel. "We were particularly pleased to showcase this beautiful sport in such a spectacular venue as Las Vegas."

Each table had brand-new Simonis 300 rapide cloth and brand-new Super Aramith Pro-Cup carom balls were used throughout.

Jae Hyung Cho, from Colorado, was the defending Champion. He, along with the 2nd through 6th place finishers of the 2010 Nationals were seeded into each of the 6 groups of the Preliminary Rounds which had 7 players in each group, round-robin to 25 points. The top 3 finishers of each group plus the 2-best 4th place finishers would advance to the next round, 20 players in all. The second round was 4 groups with 5 players each, round robin to 30 points. The top 2 finishers of each group plus the 2-best 3rd place finishers would advance to the Finals, 10 players in all. The Finals was a 10-player round robin to 35 points.

Summary of Preliminary Rounds:

Flight A: Seeded player Miguel Torres from New York (2008 Champion), Khalil Diab from California (former Egyptian Champion) and Gilbert Najm from California advanced to the next round.
Flight B: Seeded player Mazin Shooni from New Hampshire (2006 Champion), Joe DeAmato from Massachusetts and Ellis Lawrence from Massachusetts advanced to the next round.
Flight C: Jamil Isreal from Michigan wins the flight, defending Champion Jae Hyung Cho finishes 2nd and Lupe Cruz from Iowa finishes 3rd. Dave Van Lokeren from Rhode Island gets one of the "wild-cards" as he finishes in 4th place.
Flight D: Seeded player Pedro Piedrabuena from San Diego (3-time Champion), William Kim from Illinois and former 4-time Champion Frank Torres from Las Vegas advanced to the next round. Peter Banyai from California defeated Pedro in his first match but failed to make the cut losing to Frank Torres, William Kim and Gary Elias.
Flight E: Seeded player Sonny Cho from New York (2005 Champion), Adrian Viguera from Illinois and Fred Lamers from Minnesota advanced to the next round.
Flight F: Hugo Patino from New York (2-time Champion), Cong Nguyen and Thanh Vu, both from the Houston, Texas area, all advanced to the next round. Seeded player Michael Kang from New York lost a close match to Paul Frankel (Professor-Q-Ball) and had to settle for 4th place. However, he managed to earn the other 4th-place wild-card and advanced to the next-round.

2nd Round (Semi-Finals): The players were then seeded into the next round in "snake" fashion, ensuring that each group was as evenly strong as possible based on the Preliminary performances of each player. Rankings were based on Wins/Losses, Total Points, Head-to-Head and Points Against.

Summary of 2nd Round:

Flight G: Miguel Torres and Frank Torres took the top 2 spots. Khalil Diab earned one of the 3rd place wild-card spots.
Flight H: Jae Hyung Cho and Mazin Shooni took the top 2 spots. Thanh Vu earned the other 3rd place wild-card spot.
Flight I: Hugo Patino and Adrian Viguera took the top 2 spots.
Flight J: Pedro Piedrabuena and Michael Kang took the top 2 spots.

Summary of the Finals:

The finals was a 10-player round robin to 35 points. Placement was based on Wins/Losses and then AVERAGE. If there were still any ties, it would go to Total Points, Head-to-Head and Points Against.

Early on, it appeared as if Pedro Piedrabuena might win the title before the round-robin was over because many of the top players were beating each other. Miguel Torres, Hugo Patino, Mazin Shooni, Jae Hyung Cho, Michael Kang and Adrian Viguera all had 2 losses or more with just 2 rounds to go and Pedro was still undefeated. The surprise of the group was Frank Torres who has not competed in National competition for quite a while. He had just 2 losses with 2 rounds to go. Then Pedro was finally defeated by Jae Hyung Cho and that opened up all kinds of possibilities.

Miguel Torres and Hugo Patino had 3 losses each going into the Final Round while Pedro had just one loss. It looked as if Pedro had already had the title wrapped up, but there was still one obstacle in Pedro's way: Frank Torres.

In the final round, Pedro played Miguel Torres and Frank Torres played Michael Kang. The scenario was this: if Miguel could defeat Pedro and if Frank Torres could defeat Michael Kang, then both Pedro and Frank Torres would be tied with 7-2 records, forcing a mandatory playoff match to determine the Champion.

Early on in the matches, Miguel was ahead of Pedro and playing strong and Frank was way ahead of Michael Kang. It looked as if the "storybook" playoff match might just happen. But Pedro seized control of his match and ran out, ensuring his 4th National Title since 2002.

Frank Torres, in the meantime, was trying to fight off a surging Michael Kang. If Frank Torres won the match, then he was assured a 2nd place finish, which is an astounding accomplishment considering that Frank hasn't been around very much over the past several years. If Frank Torres lost his match, then he would be tied with Hugo Patino with a 6-3 record which would then be decided by Grand Average. Hugo finished his final match first and ended up with a grand average of 1.068. Frank Torres had a grand average of 1.074 going into his last match. Therefore, if Frank Torres played his final match with a 1.000 average, then he might end up losing out to Patino. If Torres averaged above 1.068, then he would have 2nd place locked up, win or lose.

Kang surged to victory over Torres with a 35-32 win. Frank Torres had 32 points in 32 innings, averaging 1.000 for his final match brining his grand average to 1.065, just .003 (3 one-thousandths) of a point less than Hugo Patino's grand average! Talk about close. Just one more point scored or one less inning throughout the finals and Frank Torres would have sewn-up 2nd place! What a great finish and what great performances by some of the old-timers, Frank Torres and Khalil Diab. Good job, guys!

Paul Frankel & Jim Shovak received awards from Mazin Shooni and the USBA for their hard work and dedication to promotion of the sport and the USBA.

We would like to thank the following:

The "Cleanup Crew": Pete Folsom, Doug Deitel and Russ Rosenberger. Without these 3 gentlemen, there would not have been clean tables and clean balls. Believe me, it was a LOT of work and we want to recognize these gentlemen for their efforts.

There are many others to thank and I might leave someone out and if I do, please forgive me. Thank you to all the scorekeepers especially Fred Lamers, John Jacobson, Gary Eake, Gilbert Najm, Jim Bishop, Chris O'Brien & Bassel Elshaar. Some of you kept the scoreboards numerous times and for that, we wish to extend our gratitude to you.

Thanks to the Tropicana and their hard working staff. They went out of their way to make us feel at home. John Lewis & ACS Cuesports: a big thank you. Karen Shooni: for her hard work in making a beautiful program book and helping to run the event. Mazin Shooni, Jim Shovak and Paul "Professor-Q-Ball" Frankel: without them there would not have been a USBA Nationals in Vegas.

Special Thanks to our sponsors:

Gabriels for supplying the tables and setting them up, especially Mark the technician and Tim Joosse.

Simonis for contributing $1500 to the prize fund.

Aramith for supplying the balls.

Tiger Products for supplying 3 beautiful high-quality carom cues for the raffle.

Individual Sponsors: Bob Jewett, David Levine, Jim Shovak, Paul Frankel, Mazin Shooni, Bruce Warner, Glen Dockstader, Al Metzinger, Bob Watson & Creative Billiard Shirts.