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Mendoza and Kaba win Predator Amateur/Open-Pro stops

Juan Guzman, Roberto Mendoza, Joei Huang & Dan Faraguna

Roberto Mendoza went undefeated to capture the Amateur title on the November 8-9 stop on the Predator Tour, while Spanky Kaba took first in the concurrently-run Open/Pro event. The $500-added Open/Pro tournament drew 10 entrants to the Cue Bar in Bayside, Queens, NY. The $500-added Amateur event drew 42.
It was Mendoza and Joei Huang who ended up squaring off in the battle for the hot seat in the Amateur event. Mendoza had defeated Efrain Torres 7-3, while Huang sent Naldo Troncoso to the losers' bracket 7-4. Mendoza then sent Huang to the semifinals and waited on his return.
On the loss side, Juan Guzman was working on an eight-match winning streak that would get him to the semifinals. His fifth against Nigel Francis, double hill, and sixth, versus Annie Flores 7-4, set him up to face Torres. Troncoso picked up Dan Faraguna, who'd defeated Joe Wilson Torres, double hill, and Ray Feliciano 7-4 to reach him.
Guzman picked up a forfeit victory over Torres and in the quarterfinals, faced Faraguna, who'd eliminated Trancoso 7-5. Guzman completed his loss-side run with an 8-3 win over Faraguna, and was eliminated by Huang in the semifinals 8-6. Mendoza completed his undefeated run with a double hill win over Huang in the finals.
In the short field Open/Pro event, Spanky Kaba came from the loss side to down Frankie Hernandez in the finals. Kaba had come within a game of advancing to the hot seat match against Hernandez, but it was Ray Lee prevailing, while Hernandez was busy downing Hunter Lombardo 7-5. Hernandez took the hot seat match 7-3 over Lee.
On the loss side, Kaba drew Lee Kang who'd survived two straight double hill matches, against Mhet Vergara and Michael Yednak. Lombardo drew Tony Robles, who'd picked up a bye and defeated Eugene Ok, 7-1. Kaba finished Kang's day 7-5, and in the quarterfinals, met up with Robles, who'd eliminated Lombardo 7-3.
Kaba gave up only a single rack defeating Robles in the quarterfinals, and then, in the semifinals,  locked up in his second double hill fight against Ray Lee. This time, though, Kaba came out on top and then won yet another double hill match, defeating Hernandez in the finals to capture the event title.

Cheng comes back from semifinals to win second Tri-State stop

Carl Yusuf Khan, Billy Cheng and Dave Shlemperis

It was Billy Cheng‘s second official victory on the Tri-State Tour, but the first in which he battled an opponent in the finals. Back in April, Cheng was the winner of record when he and Raul Reyes opted out of a final match because it was set to commence at 4 a.m. on Easter Sunday morning. Eight months later, on Saturday, December 3, Cheng had to play an extra match when Carl Yusuf Khan kept him out of the hot seat, but returned to defeat Khan in the finals and chalk up the “W.” The $1,250-added event drew 44 entrants to Gotham City Billiards in Brooklyn, NY.

Following victories over Samson Kelly, Raphael DaBreo, Tien “Max” Tran, and Joei Huang, Cheng moved among the winners’ side final four to face Kapriel Delimelkonoglu. Khan, in the meantime, squared off against Vincent Morris. Cheng downed Delimelkonoglu 7-5, as Khan was busy sending Morris west 7-3. Khan won his last match by prevailing in the battle for the hot seat 7-4, and waited for Cheng’s return.

Morris and Delimelkonoglu moved to the loss-side and lasted only a single round. Morris picked up Gary Murgia, who’d defeated Duane Toney 7-2 and Joei Huang 7-5 to reach him. Delimelkonoglu had the misfortune of running into Dave Shlemperis, who, like Cheng, had been sent west by Khan, and was working his way back with a re-match on his mind. Shlemperis got by Ben Cateneros 7-5 and Andrzej Kaldan 7-6 to face Delimelkonoglu, and then survived a double hill match against him to get into the quarterfinals. He was joined by Murgia, who’d defeated Morris, also double hill.

In what was a second straight double hill match for both of them, it was Shlemperis prevailing over Murgia in those quarterfinals to meet Cheng in the semifinals. Both Shlemperis and Cheng were looking for a second crack against Khan, and it was Cheng who earned it with a 7-3 victory.  

Khan took the first two games of the single, race-to-9 final match, and Cheng took the next two. They traded racks to a 5-5 tie, at which point, Cheng took a two-rack lead. Khan came back to win one more, before Cheng won the last two. He sunk the 9-ball on the break in the final game to capture the event title.

Tour representatives thanked Kevin and Isabel Buckley of Gotham Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Sterling-Gaming, Ozone Billiards, Ron Tarr Cues, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, and Human Kinetics. Next stop on the Tri-State Tour is scheduled for Saturday, December 10, at Castle Billiards in East Rutherford, NJ.