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Ten Spots Remain for USBA World Cup

Mazin Shooni (Rick Schmitz – Rixx Images)

The USBA field for the Las Vegas World Cup is rounding out. The USBA has selected Mazin Shooni, Frank Torres and Raymon Groot to participate in the tournament. With their selection, ten spots remain for USBA players. These will be determined on March 25 and 26 at two qualifying tournaments to be held in Las Vegas prior to the start of the World Cup.

Three players selected by USBA

Shooni and Torres are past USBA national champions. Groot finished second in the 2020 USBA national tournament. All three have extensive international playing experience, with Torres’ second place finish in the 1987 World Championship being the most-notable highlight. They join nine other USBA players who have been selected to play in the tournament.

Two players have been selected by Predator, the host organizer for the World Cup, as its wildcards: Pedro Piedrabuena and Hugo Patiño. Piedrabuena finished first in the 2021 USBA national tournament. Patiño is a four-time USBA national champion. The USBA had previously selected the following players based on their top-eight placement in the 2021 National tournament: Tae Kyu Lee, Young Kyu Lee, Edward Gomez, John Park, Miguel Torres, Kang Lee, and Eric Kwon.

The Las Vegas World Cup, scheduled from March 27 to April 2, 2022 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, is one of eight similar tournaments on the UMB calendar for 2022. Each tournament is limited to 149 players.

Ten to be determined at qualifying tournament

Pedro Piedabuena Wins 10th USBA National Championship

Tae Kyu Lee, Pedro Piedrabuena and Young Kyu Lee

Banished from the USBA nationals for the last two years because of a UMB suspension for agreeing to play in the PBA, Pedro Piedrabuena from San Diego took out his revenge on the field of US championship aspirants two months after his suspension was lifted. When the chalk dust had settled, he had secured his 10th national championship trophy. (Photo credit to Erwin Dionisio.)

Over the four days of play, Piedrabuena posted a 10-1 record, his only hiccup being a 25-14 loss to Kang Lee of New York in group play. In the knock-out phase, the southern California cue wizard bested local player Sang Jin Lee 40 to 9 in 14 innings (2.857) and three-time champion Miguel Torres 40 to 14 in 15 (2.667). In the semi-finals, the play was slower and more conservative, with Piedrabuena defeating Edward Gomez 40 to 17 in 36 (1.111). Catching a second wind, Piedrabuena put on a dazzling display of shots and position play in a decisive victory over Tae Kyu Lee, the 2020 National Champion. The game was tight at 25-24 in 10 innings, but Lee’s hope at defending his crown ended when his opponent calmly ran 11 and 4 in consecutive innings. The San Diegan closed out the game in 15 innings (2.667 to 1.667).

Tae Kyu Lee’s route to the finals was rockier. He advanced from group play with a 4 and 3 record, finishing third behind John Park of Houston and Jong Min Lee from New Jersey. His grand average was but 0.798, much below his usual standard. His struggles with the tables continued in the round of 16 with a 40 to 21 victory in 40 innings (1.000) over Hernan Patarroyo of Miami and in the quarter finals with a 40 to 18 victory over Eric Kwon of New York in 42 innings (0.952). For his semi-final opponent, Tae Kyu Lee faced his older brother, Young Kyu Lee. His older brother proved a tough opponent, but the younger of the siblings survived the defensive struggle, 40 to 37 in 44 innings (0.909) and Tae moved on. In the ultimate match, the defending title holder finally found his form. Not willing to let his crown be taken without a fight, the New Yorker was able to match Piedrabuena for 10 innings, but ultimately could not keep up the pace of billiards.

For his efforts, Piedrabuena received a $4,000 prize and an invitation to the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama next July. Piedrabuena also won prizes for longest run (18) and best game (2.857) in the knock-out phase. Tae Kyu pocketed $3,000 in a losing effort. Young Kyu Lee finished third, besting Gomez 30 to 26 in 30 (1.000) and earning $2,000. John Park from Houston secured fifth place with a 30 to 22 victory in 25 over Torres, now living in South Carolina (1.200). Seventh place went to Kang Lee, who topped Eric Kwon 30 to 18 in 42 innings (0.714).

Prizes were also awarded for the best game and high run in the preliminary rounds. Hugo Patino, who made the round of 16, had the best game in the preliminary rounds, 25 to 3 over Raymond Groot in 8 trips to the table (3.125). Three players, Patino, Carlos Mario Villegas, and Sun Shin tied for high run, each tallying 12.

This article was first published on USBA.net

Harry Pena Wins Carom Cafe Master’s Tournament

Harry Pena

Thirty billiard players gathered, with masks on face and cues in hand, to compete in the 2020 Carom Café Masters Tournament from December 3 to 6, 2020. Harry Peña, who survived Covid-19 earlier in the year, ended up on top, besting a field that included four USBA National Three-Cushion Champions, including the reigning crown holder.

The tournament began on December 3rd with the drawing of the five groups. Play commenced and ran through late Sunday afternoon. John Park of Houston won Group A with a 5-0 record. Hugo Patiño, a multiple-time USBA national champion, finished second with a 3-2 record. Group B proved to the be the surprise of the tournament, with Won Sik Kang finishing first, undefeated. Reigning USBA national champion Tae Kyu Lee finished second. Miguel Torres, a two-time USBA national champion, prevailed in Group C. Harry Peña finished second, losing to Torres 25-23. Carlos Mario Villegas proved the best in Group D with Tyler Ma, a young player form Houston, the runner up. Former national champion Sonny Cho won Group E with a 4-1 record, losing to Eric Kwon, 25-24, who finished second. The top two from each group advanced to the final round robin along with two third-place finishers George Karam from Group B and Sang Jin Lee from Group E.

The twelve players were then placed in two groups of six. Tae Kyu Lee found his championship form, winning Finals Group A with a 4-1 record. Sonny Cho finished second. Eventual champion Peña had a perfect 5-0 record in Finals Group B. Sang Jin Lee placed second. The first and second place winners from the finals group advanced to the four man knock-out round.

Ira Lee, Harry Pena, Tae Kyu Lee and Carom Cafe Owner Michael Kang

Peña continued his dominance in the semi-final round, crushing Sonny Cho by the score of 40 to 15. In the other semi-final Tae Kyu Lee outlasted Sang Jin Lee, 40 to 31. In the finals, Peña, the charismatic Colombian dazzled. He rushed to a 9-1 lead, playing fast and with confidence. He added a run of 10 and raced to the finish, doubling up Lee, 40 to 20, in 25 innings to capture the crown and the $2500 first-place prize. Sang Jin Lee took third, defeating Sonny Cho 40 to 17.

Click a link here to see all the charts and results:

Preliminary Rounds

Finals and Prize Fund

Jim Watson (2nd from right)

In a touching tribute before the start of play, Michael Kang, the owner of Carom Café, and the other players held a moment of silence for Jim Watson, who died suddenly in September. Watson, seen below (2nd from right) in a picture from days gone by, was a local player of both pocket and carom games and is remembered by all as a gentleman and sportsman.

With his victory, Harry Pena’s 2020 ended on a happy note. Earlier in the year, he had to be evacuated from Carom Café via ambulance after he felt ill. He was later diagnosed with Covid-19. His play is proof of his full recovery, and the billiards world looks forward to post-Covid-19 tournaments in 2021.

This article originally appeared on the United States Billiard Association website and is used with their permission.