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Sambajon Big Skins Winner
Oct 22, 2005, 11:15 PM

After a fluke scratch cost him a shot at $54,000 at the end of the finals of the Skins Billiards Championship, tiny Santos Sambajon held on to win a three-game playoff to pocket the same amount and bring his total Skins winnings to a gargantuan $73,500.

"It's unbelievable . unbelievable," the 45-year-old Filipino native said afterwards. "It's five times as much as I've ever won before in a tournament. Six times!"

It was his second playoff victory of Saturday evening at the Skins, produced by Billiards International at the Resorts hotel and casino in Atlantic City, N.J. Sambajon barely snuck into the finals by winning a three-game playoff for $16,500 at the end of his semifinal bracket.

The finals then brought together Sambajon, Danny Basavich, Cory Deuel and Jose Parica for a shot at $54,000, divided into "skins" for each of 12 games. Any player who could win three games in a row would collect the accumulated value of the skins up to that point. However, unlike in previous rounds, none of the players in the finals could muster three consecutive wins. The value kept escalating until it maxed out at $54,000 in the 12th rack.

The only player with a shot at the astronomical sum at that point was Sambajon, who won the 12th game. Under the Skins rules, he would be allowed two more games in which to win the booty. Otherwise, the four players would draw for spots in a single-elimination playoff.

Sambajon collected the 13th game after Deuel inadvertently fouled on a shot on the 3. Then, in the 14th rack, Parica left Sambajon a wide-open shot on the 4. Breathing heavily to dispel tension, Sambajon sank the 4, but the cue ball spun around the table and caromed off the 6 into the corner pocket. Enraged and frustrated, Sambajon threw his head back and stayed in that position for almost a minute.

A grinning Parica cleaned up to trigger the playoff. Basavich, who had his own shot at the $54,000 dashed by Sambajon in the 12th frame, knocked out Deuel with a daredevil bank on the 2 that comboed in the 9. In the next game, Sambajon took advantage of a loose Parica safety to knock out his Filipino countryman.

It all came down to the lag for the last game, where Sambajon bested Basavich by an inch or so. He promptly sank three balls on his break, and ran out for the mammoth payday.

"Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!" Sambajon screamed, his arms shooting up to the ceiling.

It was a giant blow to Basavich, softened just a bit by his $17,000 in winnings from previous rounds.

"What are you going to do?" the gregarious "Kid Delicious" said with a smile. "It is heartbreaking to know I could have won $54,000 more."

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