Robles breathes a sigh of relief as he downs Kang in the finals of Predator Open/Pro event

They were a study in contrasts. The veteran Tony Robles was bristling with nervous energy as he juggled tournament director duties with a loss-side bid to win his own May 5, $500-added Open/Pro event on the Predator Tour, which drew 10 entrants to the Cue Bar in Bayside, NY. Facing Robles in the finals of this event was a considerably-younger, serene Lee Kang, who had defeated The Iceman, Mika Immonen, in the battle for the hot seat. Were it not for his open eyes, almost flawless shot-making, and fiercely focused decisions about position, you might have thought he was asleep. He wasn't, and though Robles went on to prevail in their finals match, it wasn't without a sigh of relief.

"I'd say that," said Robles, moments after his 11-5 victory in those finals. "You can say that."
Kang had last competed here in the US about six years ago, appearing in the AZBilliards database only once, finishing fifth in a stop on the Blaze Tour. He'd returned to South Korea to serve in the military, and had arrived back here in the US in April. He will return to Korea in July. According to Robles, Kang is a student of fellow Korean Shin Young Park, a three-time winner on the Predator Tour back in '08, and winner of a Joss NE Tour stop that same year. 
"He had a great teacher," said Robles, noting that Park was "the best jumper (he'd) ever seen," and that Kang had clearly learned that part of his lessons well.
Robles moved to the west bracket in the opening round of play, falling to Joey Korsiak 7-2, as Kang advanced past Vikram Dasari 7-2 and Bob Schott 7-1 to face Korsiak among the winners' side final four. The Iceman, in the meantime, squared off against Zion Zvi. Kang sent Korsiak west 7-4 for an eventual quarterfinal re-match against Robles, as Immonen gave up only a single rack against Zvi. In the battle for the hot seat that followed, Kang gave up only two to Immonen, who would later, due to prior commitments, forfeit out of the seminfinals. With the loss-side lagging behind, Kang would wait a few hours for the return of Robles.
Robles started his trek back to the finals with a 7-4 win over Qui Lin, followed it with a 7-1 victory over Schott and hooked up with Zvi. Korsiak drew Jerry Tarantola, who'd been awarded a loss-side bye and defeated Dasari 7-5. Robles survived, double hill, versus Zvi and earned himself a re-match against Korsiak, who'd eliminated Tarantola 7-4. Robles won the quarterfinal re-match against Korsiak 7-4, which proved to be the semifinal, as well, because of Immonen's forfeiture. Robles advanced from the quarterfinals right into the finals against Kang.
Kang and Robles traded racks through the first four games, each winning games off the other's break, Robles coming up dry on his two attempts. In rack 5, in spite of a scratch, Robles took command from the 4-ball and chalked up his third, single-game lead at 3-2. He went on to win the next four, including two break and run racks, to take a commanding 7-2 lead. Kang won two in a row to reduce the lead down to three at 7-4, but Robles would win four of the next five, reaching 9 racks first and forcing the extension to 11 games. An unforced error led to Kang's last game victory at the 8-5 juncture. Robles took the final three, punctuating the victory with a break and run in the final rack.