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Gomez gets by LaPuente twice to win Tri-State Tour stop

(l to r): Manny Gomez & Luis LaPuente

With the end of the 2018/2019 Tri-State Tour season approaching, there is, as there always is, something of a quiet scramble as players attempt to establish their performance credentials in the hope of being invited to the annual Tri-State Invitational tournament, scheduled for the final weekend in June at Steinway Billiards. There are four events left in the 2018/2019 schedule for players to become one of the 16 competitors in each class division to receive an invitation. The two finalists of the Tri-State Tour stop held on Sunday, May 19, Manuel Gomez and Luis LaPuente are, in competition parlance, ‘in the hunt’ for slots in their respective class divisions; Gomez, a D player, currently at #15 in that class and La Puente, a C player, currently at #32 in his class. Gomez got by La Puente twice in the event to go undefeated and claim the event title, thereby improving his chances in the D class, while having a negative impact on LaPuente’s fortunes in the C class. The $1,000-added event drew 34 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.
They met first in a winners’ side semifinal, as Pashk Gjini (B, #18) and Eugene Ok (B+, #8) squared off in the other one. Gomez took his first of two over LaPuente 6-4, as Ok downed Gjini 7-2. Gomez claimed the hot seat 8-5 over Ok and waited on what turned out to be the return of LaPuente.
On the loss side, Gjini picked up Luis Jimenez, who’d survived a double hill battle versus Tri V Chau and eliminated Jimmy Acosta 8-5. LaPuente drew Mike Strassberg, who’d defeated Brad McDuffie 6-3 and Bianca Martinez 7-5 to reach him.
Jimenez (B, #6) downed Gjini 7-5, as LaPuente shut out Strassberg. LaPuente then did his campaign for climbing the C ladder some good by first defeating Jimenez 7-1 in the quarterfinals, and then, because Eugene Ok forfeited out of the semifinals, leapfrogging into the finals and a re-match against Gomez.
Gomez, though, completed his undefeated run with an 8-6 victory in the finals to claim the event title. He will likely move a few rungs up his D ladder to stay well within the top 16 in that division, with, as noted, four events to go to improve even further.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, DIGICUE OB and Hustlin USA. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour will be the 9th Annual George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial Tournament, scheduled for May 25-26 and conducted under the combined auspices of the Tri-State, Predator Pro Am and Mezz Tours. The $4,000-added event, featuring both amateur and Open/Pro fields will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.