Sambajon and Butera Down to the Wire at NCS 9-Ball National Championship Finals

Santos Sambajon

Friday Night at the NCS 9-Ball National Championship finals, spectators witnessed the finesse and knowledge of top veteran players, Santos Sambajon and Sal Butera. Both men played the extended finals race to 15 in A class form. On the tough pro cut 9' Diamond table and with the alternate break format, initially the match was tied up. However starting with game 9, Butera started making his move when given ball in hand after Sambajon scratched on the break and in quick fashion, Sambajon saw himself down 9-6.

With a combination of well executed safes and patience Sambajon fended off Butera, who as a spectator said earlier was playing all day as if giving a clinic. The next 30 minutes saw the match tied up 10-10. Butera, also known for his laid back and patience at the table, calmly waited for his opportunity. It came when the next break by Sambajon came up dry allowing Butera to run out. The next came when Butera broke and ran out to now give himself a two game advantage making it 12-10.

In game 23, Butera pushed to a jump. Sambajon chose his option and handed the table back to Butera. The cue ball close to one short rail on one end and the one ball near the other short rail but close to the corner pocket. Butera had one big challange, the wall of other balls between whitey and the one. Due to a couple of other balls obstructing the potential kick path, Butera had no choice but to jump almost the entire length of the table and over two balls in the middle in order to keep Sambajon in his chair. Poise, stroke, bang, the cue ball flew through the air and landed dead pocketing the one in the corner and getting perfect on the two. The crowd of 70-80 spectators went wild. Butera, after taking a moment to compose himself from the shot and crowd response, ran out to make it 13-10.

Sambajon was now facing needing 5 to Butera's 2. But Sambajon has been in this rodeo before and knows how to keep focus and bear down just waiting for his opening chance. Perfect shape, well played safes and few misses by Sambajon slowly allowed him to edge up on Butera. Soon the match was hill-hill. Butera broke but scratched in the side leaving the final rack wide open. Sambajon meticulously played perfect shape on the entire rack until his shot on the 8-Ball did not come up on the table as high as he played leaving himself a deep back cut to a corner pocket. With the cue ball and 9-ball only about an inch apart as well, this shot is one that tests any player. Taking a close examination, Sambajon also had to impart high inside to avoid a potential scratch at the other end of the table. He made this under pressure tough shot and to a standing ovation by the crown, Sambajon won 15-14.

Both players will receive paid entry to the 2010 U.S Open 10-Ball Championship at the Riviera Hotel and Casino where 96 players from around the US and world will vie for approximately . Sambajon also won $3800 in cash, the #308 cue from OB Cues and custom engraved rack commemorating his win by DELTA-13 and a custom engraved and made solid crystal trophy.

The NCS 10-Ball National Championship starts today at 10 am Pacific Time and also will be live streamed at



1st Place: Santos Sambajon  (IL) $3800 + Entry 2010 US Open 10-Ball Championship
2nd Place: Sal Butera  (CA) $2500 + Entry to 2010 US Open 10-Ball Championship
3rd Place: Adam Kielar (PA) $1700
4th Place: John Kucharo (IA) $1100
5th – 6th Place: Jui Lung Chen (TX)  $750 / Denis Strickland (TX) $750
7th – 8th Place: Justin Whitehead (AZ) $400 / Todd Marsh (WA) $400