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Dick Jaspers Victorious in Las Vegas World Cup

Final awards ceremony

Dick Jaspers continued his march of devastation through the three-cushion world by securing a 50 to 43 victory over Sameh Sidhom of Egypt in the finals of the 2022 Las Vegas World Cup. With the win, the Dutch master notched his third consecutive victory on the world stage. Having won the World Championship in December 2021 in Egypt and the Ankara World Cup in January 2022, Jaspers secured his position as the number one ranked player in the world. Jaspers, a few months shy of his 57th birthday, also exorcized a demon of his past. In 2003, the last time the World Cup was held in the United States, also in Las Vegas, Jaspers lost in the final to Samih Sayginer of Turkey. This time, he would not be denied the trophy.

Sponsored by Predator, the Las Vegas World Cup was held at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Resort from March 27 to April 2. It is one of 6 World Cup tournaments to be played in 2022 under the auspices of the Union Mondiale de Billard (UMB), the world governing body for carom billiards. The first World Cup was held in Ankara, Turkey in January, and the next one will be held in Vietnam in May, followed by tournaments in Korea, the Netherlands, and Egypt. Each World Cup has 149 players. Seventeen players are seeded in the final 32 players: the 14-highest ranked players, 2 wild cards from the organizer, and 1 wild card from the UMB. The other 15 players qualify through a series of four qualifying rounds: PPPQ, PPQ, PQ and Q. The final 32 players are placed into 8 groups of 4 (A to H). After a round robin play, the top 2 in each group advance to a knockout (single elimination) bracket of 16 players. The winner in each world cup receives 16000€ and 80 ranking points. Second place takes home 10000€ and earns 54 ranking points. A total of 106,500€ is awarded in prize money.

Jaspers reached the finals without a blemish on his record, winning three games in Group A. In the first round of the knockout phase, Jaspers squeaked out a win over Murat Coklu of Turkey, 50 to 48. The game was mere prelude. Having found his stroke, the Dutch wizard dispatched Marco Zanetti of Italy 50 to 17 in 17 innings for a 2.941 average, the best game in the main draw. In the semi-finals, Jaspers scored 38 billiards in 10 middle innings and topped Haeng Jik Kim of Korea 50 to 31 in 26 (1.923). 

Sidhom’s run to the finals was equally impressive. He emerged from Group F with victories over Belgians Eddy Merckx and Roland Forthomme, and a tie with Huberney Catano of Colombia. In his game against Merckx, Sidhom made 40 in 18 innings for a 2.222 average. He made 40 in 20 innings for a 2.000 average in a victory over the other Belgian, and defeated Quyet Chien Tran of Vietnam 50 to 38 in 34 innings. In the quarter finals, Sidhom battled with Pedro Piedrabuena of the United States, securing a 50 to 43 victory in a strategic game. In the semi-finals, Sidhom, with a high runoff 11, bested Jeremy Bury of France, 50 to 39 in 29 innings for a 1.724 average. 

In the finals, Sidhom jumped to a 13 to 3 lead, but then stalled, the points becoming harder to get. He limped for several innings, and Jaspers caught up at 14 after a run of 9. The players traded billiards for several innings. After 15 innings, they were notched at 21, each player showing some nerves. Jaspers was able to calm himself and pushed ahead, building a steady lead through the middle innings. The Egyptian cueist tried to cling to his opponent, but Jaspers continued to build his lead. At 44 to 36, Jaspers made 3, putting victory in sight. Sidhom responded with creative shot making and a run of 6, before missing a short-short-short from an impossible diagonal position. After the run, it was clear that Sidhom’s perseverance, creativity, and mental toughness had won over the crowd, but bad-to-impossible leaves of the balls eventually proved too much for the young dentist from Cairo. 

Jaspers stepped to the table, his white ball in the corner and balls 2 and 3 at the opposite end of the table. He pondered the position as the shot clock ticked down. With 4 seconds left, he played an up and down—short, short, long—clipping both balls after the third rail. After a missed double the rail, the balls rested in another impossible position. Sidhom played the shot of the game, a bounce-back five cushion for his 43rd point, but the balls would not cooperate. After Sidhom missed from a difficult leave, Jaspers closed out with a run of 2, securing his 27th World Cup victory. The crowd erupted into applause for the victor, but the audience also showed its appreciation for the second-place winner with a long ovation, and the 35-year-old Egyptian was emotionally moved by the acknowledgment.

America had 34 players compete in the World Cup, a dozen more than its allotment. America was the recipient of bad luck by the Vietnamese contingent, who could not secure Visas for all their players. At the last minute, 10 players from the Asian country dropped out, opening the door for eager American three-cushion enthusiasts. The highest finish of a United States player was accomplished by Pedro Piedrabuena of San Diego. The multiple-time US National champion was selected by Predator as one of its two wild card selections. Seeded into the final 32 players, Piedrabuena won his group with two victories and a tie, thereby advancing to the knockout phase. In the first round, Piedrabuena met an old foe, Torbjörn Blomdahl of Sweden. The American played a marvelous game, leaving the six-time world champion bad position after bad position. With a sprint at the end, Piedrabuena came out on top, 50 to 38 in 30 innings (1.666). In the quarter finals, Piedrabuena played another spirted game, but ended up on the wrong side of the ledger, losing to Sidhom 50 to 43 in 27 innings. For his efforts, Piedrabuena finished 6th in the final rankings, adding 26 points to his world ranking.

Predator’s other wild card selection, Hugo Patiño of New York, failed to get out of his group in the main draw. Drawn into Group C, Patiño struggled in a loss against Blomdahl, losing 40 to 23 in 23 innings. He fared better against Pedro Gonzalez of Colombia, winning 40 to 27 in 29 innings. Patiño’s best game came in a losing effort against Dani Sanchez of Spain, who notched 40 in 20 innings to Patiño’s 30 also in 20 innings. Patiño finished with a very respectable grand average of 1.291 but could do no better than 3rd in the group. Patiño finished 24th in the final rankings. 

Piedrabuena and Patiño were not the only Americas to shine on the Las Vegas stage. Hometown player Frank Torres, now well into his 70s, made a glorious run, advancing from the PPQ round to the Q round before falling short of the main draw. The Silver Fox, who finished 2nd in the 1987 world championship, finished 50th with a grand average of 0.907 and a best-game average of 1.235. Jesus Corona, from Las Angeles, had the high run for the entire tournament, a 16 made in the PPQ round. 

The World Cup will return to Las Vegas the next three years, again sponsored by Predator.

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Vera, Pineda and Juan Garcia Big Winners at Predator CRM Carom Cafe Event

Michael Kang, Javier Teran, Ira Lee, Vicke Pineda and Javier Vera

The top 3 cushion players in the Pan-American region were back in action July 21-25 at Carom Cafe in Flushing New York for another weekend of Scotch Doubles and Open Singles Carom action. This was a $15K added USBA dual-event sponsored by Predator CRM, CRM Sports, Carom Cafe and Simonis.

The scotch doubles event was played on Wednesday thru Friday, with a field of fourteen two player teams playing in three groups with each time playing to 30 points with the top performing 8 teams qualifying into a knockout round playing to 40 points.

In group A, each of the five teams suffered two losses, so the qualifiers scoring the most points advanced. The advancing teams featured top-ranking 3-Cushion champions from Colombia and Mexico, Huberney Catano, Javier Vera and Miguel Almaraz, playing with US-based teammates Mark An, Vicky Pineda and Rufino Perez, respectively.

Group B was the one group with only four teams. As it was decided during the players meeting, only two teams from this group would advance. Rising to the top of the field was the team featuring Javier Teran, a former Pan-American champion from Ecuador, now residing in Colombia, and Michael Kang, the owner of Carom Cafe who was a former USBA Nationals runner-up. Also qualifying from Group B was the Equadorian champion, Luis Aveiga, who teamed up with Ricardo Carranco. Both teams only had one loss in the qualifiers.

Group C qualified three teams. John Park and Young Ha Choi finished first in the group with only one six point loss to mar their record. Young Kyu Lee, the two time defending champion of the past two Predator CRM open events, teamed up with George Karam, an Egyptian/American local NY player with a coincidentally appropriate name, earned a spot into the knockout round with two wins. Sonny Cho and Eric Kwon also edged in with two losses – falling just 2 points shy of a 3-1 record.

In the knockout phase, Teran & Kang came out on top (40-36) after a heated battle of nerves with the team of Almaraz & Perez. They then proceeded to edge out Park & Choi by a single point (40-39) in the semifinal round. On the other side of the bracket, the team of Vera & Pineda cruised through all challengers and won the final match against Javier Teran and Michael Kang 40-31 to win the title.

Jose Juan Garcia

The 40 player Predator CRM Open USBA 3-Cushion event kicked off on Friday with eight groups of 5 players, each playing in round robin format. The two players in each flight plus six of the best-performing third place finishers in each flight would advance. In addition, two “lotto” wildcard positions would fill out the field of 24 moving to a single elimination bracket with the top finishers in each flight getting a “bye” in the first round of the knockout phase.

Everyone at Carom Cafe was treated to some great 3-cushion performances for the entire preliminary round. When the field whittled down to the last 16, we were left with the top talent this side of the Atlantic, including Pan-American Champion Javier Teran, Ecuadorian Champion Luis Aveiga, former USBA champion Hugo Patino, two time defending champion Young Kyu Lee, current USBA National Champion Tae Kyu Lee, Mexico champion Miguel Almaraz, Colombian Champion Huberney Catano, his young talented countryman Jose Juan Garcia, and rising star Kang Lee – among other strong 3-cushion players.

The twice defending Champion of the event, Young Kyu Lee was eliminated in the Final Eight Round by the young talented Jose Juan Garcia.

In the quarter finals, Kang Lee upset Ecuadorian star Luis Aveiga 40-39 in a nailbiter match with Kang leading for the entire match. Huberney Catano took down NY favorite, Hugo Patino, 40-28 in 20 innings.

In the semi-final, Jose Juan Garcia matched up with Ecuadorian Champion Javier Teran, in one of the most exciting heavyweight battles of the entire event on the livestream table. In the first four innings, the score was 17-16 Teran, setting the stage for this high-performance match. After only 15 innings, Garcia was ahead 38-35. The last innings of the match were filled with drama and suspense, incredible shots and great defense. In the end, Garcia triumphed 40-39, earning his spot into the finals with Catano.

It was an all-Colombian final with two young champions and rivals head-to-head. Jose Juan Garcia continued the consistent stellar performance he maintained the entire event and finishing off Catano, convincingly, 40-22 in 23 innings to win the Predator CRM Open USBA 3-Cushion Event.