Sambajon is the 7th New England 9-Ball Champion

Robb Saez and Santos Sambajon

Santos Sambajon is the 7th player to be crowned the New England 9-Ball Champion at Rhode Island Billiard Bar & Bistro in North Providence, RI. Other great players that have held this title are Carlos Viera, Mike Zuglan, George San Souci, Rafael Martinez and Frank Hernandez. The New England 9-Ball Tournament of Champions is an annual event held in the memory of Tony Constanzo, who was a great supporter of pool and a friend to all. This year's event featured $7,500 added to the prize fund.

Six players remained on Sunday. On the winner's side, there was Sambajon and Boston's own, Anthony Ruberto. The B-side featured Robb Saez versus local favorite Steve Tavernier and Danny 'Kid Delicious' Basavich against Jared Clowery. 'Kid Delicious' and Saez, both won their matches by the same score of 9-7.

The quarterfinals between Saez and Basavich went back-and-forth until the score of 6-6 and Saez won the next three games to win the match. Meanwhile on the winner's side of the chart, Sambajon took an early 3-0 lead and kept at least a two game lead throughout the set against Ruberto and won it, 9-6.

In the semi-finals, Ruberto came out the gate with a 4-1 lead over Saez, but after a couple of unforced errors, Saez tied up the match at 4-4. The match continued with Ruberto taking a one-game lead, only to watch Saez tie it up again. Saez finally regained the lead in the 15th game to reach the hill at 8-7. Saez made two balls on the break, but had to play safe. Ruberto missed a tough 1-ball and Saez ran the rack for his chance in the finals.

It's worth noting that Saez lost his first round match to Joe Tucker and had to grind his way through the B-side of the chart to reach the finals. Since the tournament format was true double elimination, Saez would have to win two sets to nine against Sambajon.

Saez got out to 6-3 lead over Sambajon, but the momentum shifted and Sambajon won the next five games to reach the hill. It looked like Sambajon would win the match, but he missed the 5-ball by trying to cheat the pocket too much for position on the 6. Saez won the game and then broke and ran the next two games to force a second set.

Saez continued his drive in the second set by taking a 3-0 lead. Sambajon then tied the match at 3-3. Saez returned to a three game lead with a score of 7-4, but Sambajon kept firing right back and evened the score at 7-7. He then continued to win the next two games to win the match and tournament 9-7.

Complete Payouts:
1st Santos Sambajon $2,500
2nd Robb Saez $2,000
3rd Anthony Ruberto $1,500
4th Dan Basavich $1,000
5th/6th Steve Tavernier, Jared Clowery $500
7th/8th Mike Minichello, Frank Hernandez $300
9th/12th Terri Keith, Randy Labonte, Bill Lana, Joe Tucker $175
13th/16th Ivaylo Petrov, Mike Deneault, John Bell, Mike Alfonso $100