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Pagulayan Over Reyes Gomez at Steinway Billiards

Alex Pagulayan

In the billiards world of “Challenge Matches”, various players have staked out their specialties and have announced they will take on just about anyone in that particular discipline. Barbox 9-ball has Skyler Woodward, who was literally challenged for his scalp by Shane Van Boening. One Pocket has Tony Chohan, Alex Pagulayan, Justin Bergman and Scott Frost, who at any given time are known to play challenge matches for five figures at the drop of a hat. 

In the New York area, if you are talking about Last Pocket 8-Ball, the man is Reyes Gomez. Gomez relocated from his Dominican Republic home a little over a year ago and has quickly became the man to play Last Pocket 8-Ball. (Back Pocket 8-Ball is a semi complicated game that is basically 8-ball with the player having to pocket the 8-ball in the same pocket they made their last ball in.) 

Specializing in a game doesn’t always mean a player books winners though, as Gomez has faced a long list of opponents that includes Efren Reyes, Francisco Bustamante, Dennis Orcollo and Scott Frost and a handful of local high rollers, with a fairly even record of wins and losses. 

June 24th was the night that another Filipino legend, Alex Pagulayan, stepped to the plate at Steinway Billiards in Astoria, NY to take on Gomez. It took two days of negotiations between the players and the event promoter Carlos Sanchez to determine the actual game and the various rules that would be in use for this match, but it was finally decided that Pagulayan would give Gomez three games in a race to 20, with backers responsible for a mid five figure payday for the eventual winner. The match was streamed online for free by Ambi Estevez on his Action After Dark Facebook page. 

While Gomez took the first rack for a quick 4-0 lead, Pagulayan took control and pulled even at 5-5.  Although this game is known as the specialty of Gomez, it didn’t take Pagulayan long to figure out the moves involved and he put together another string of racks for an 11-7 lead. The players exchanged racks for a little while, before Pagulayan strung together multiple racks for what looked like an insurmountable 16-10 lead. Gomez showed his expertise in the game and clawed back to within three racks at 17-14, but that was as close as he would get before Pagulayan put the match away with a final score of 20-14.

Next up for Pagulayan, is the TTMD 10-Ball Open Championship in Virginia, while Gomez will certainly sharpen his cue and be back in action as soon as he can find an opponent who is willing to take him on in Last Pocket 8-Ball. 

The event couldn’t have happened without all of the hard work by Ambi Estevez and Marisol Palacios with Action After Dark and Carlos Sanchez with Carlos Sanchez Promotions. Also special thanks to Erwin Dionisio for his great photography at the event.