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Piedrabuena Wins USBA 3-Cushion National Championship
Feb 21, 2007, 9:23 AM

From around the country they came: 48 of the best 3-cushion players in the country competing for a purse of $20,000 at the USBA 3-Cushion National Championships, held Feb. 7-11 at Eight Ball Billiards in Maywood, Calif.

This year the players were split up into six flights of eight. The equipment featured nine Verhoeven tables with new Simonis cloth. In the preliminary rounds the players went to 30 points and in the finals the race was to 40 points. The two winners from each prelimimary flight advanced to the final 12 man round robin flight.

After four rounds of the finals, Mazin Shooni, the 2006 and defending USBA champion, continued undefeated. Pedro Piedrabuena, 2002 and 2004 USBA champion, continued undefeated as well. Hugo Patino, another past USBA champion (2003), after a third round defeat at the hands of Salvador “Chava” Diaz, came back with a victory over Jose Costa. Meanwhile, Miguel Torres, 2003 Nationals runner-up, playing out of Carom Café in Flushing NY, after losing to Palafox in round 3, won against Felipe Razon from Chicago. Palafox fell from the ranks of the undefeated after suffering a loss at the hands of Young Gull Lee of New York, 40 to 38. Palafox started that game with 14 points in his first 2 innings and was winning, 16-0. After four rounds Piedrabuena and Shooni remained perfect, 4-0.

The fifth round saw Piedrabuena and Shooni remain undefeated yet again. Piedrabuena over Vicky Pineda of Los Angeles, while Shooni outplayed former USBA champion George Ashby from Jacksonville, Ill. Newcomer Jose Costa, 44, of Lawrence, Mass., playing in his first national championship, captured his first win of the finals with a brilliant 40-38 victory over the always dangerous Carlos Palafox. Palafox came out of the finals with a 3-2 record. Both Patino and Torres found victories to send their records to 4-1.

The sixth round was a nailbiter against Young Gull Lee and Mazin Shooni. Pedro already won his match, making him 6-0. Shooni had a hard time keeping up with Lee all through the match. At one time, Mr. Lee snapped off a nine run giving him a 26-10 lead. Shooni fought back and won by 40-39, giving him six wins and no losses also.

Round 7 and 8 continued to be exciting as Pedro was victorious over Jose Costa, 40-14 in 26 innings. Pedro defeated Miguel Torres as well, 40-28, giving him an 8-0 record. Even though Shooni suffered his first and disappointing loss to Torres by a slim three point margin in the seventh round, he came roaring back with a two-point victory in his match against Hugo Patino in the eighth round. Shooni's record was 7-1 loss at that point.

Round 9 saw a “standing room only” highlight match between Michael Kang against Pedro Piedrabuena. Kang had Piedrabuena 33-25. Mazin Shooni was hoping that Michael would win, giving Pedro his first loss. But that didn’t happen as Pedro came back with an arsenal of shots that gave him the victory, 40-39. Mazin won his match against Palafox, 40-33, while Torres had the win over Hugo with a score of 40-21, placing Torres with 7 wins and 2 losses.

The competition continued in the 10th and 11th rounds with determined players on all fronts trying to secure special victories to assure higher monetary positions of finish in the overall event rankings. Only two players remained in the hunt for first place — Pedro Piedrabuena and Mazin Shooni. These two determined veterans called on years of 3 cushion “conditioned” playing experience and game knowledge to try to gain a sizable lead, but neither could seem to pull away from the other. With Mazin needing six points and Pedro needing seven points in the game, strategic calculations on the part of both players became evident as they approached the table for their respective final shots. When all was said and done, Pedro dug from deep within during his final turn at the table, scoring the critical 40th point to assure himself the USBA National Championship title and another engraving “notch” on the Carl Strassburg traveling trophy.

This was the third time since 2002 that he has earned this most prestigious title among his billiard playing piers. Averaging over 1.400 during the finals and going undefeated for the entire event with 7 wins in the prelims and 11 wins in the final round robin of 12 players was no easy task, but 2007 proved to be Pedro’s finest hour at the game he loves.

PAYOUTS:
Place Amount Player
1st $3,900 Pedro Piedrabuena
2nd $3,100 Mazin Shooni
3rd $2,600 Hugo Patino
4th $2,100 Miguel Torres
5th $1,700 Salvador Diaz
6th $1,400 Carlos Palafox
7th $1,200 Michael Kang
8th $1,000 Young Gull Lee
9th $900 George Ashby
10th $800 Vicky Pineda
11th $700 Jose Costa
12th $600 Felipe Razon

Total$20,000

High-Run (Prelims) $100 Miguel Torres & George Ashby (high-runs of 13)

High-Run (Finals) $100 Carlos Palafox (16)

Best Game (Finals) $100 Hugo Patino (40pts/18 inns- 2.222 avg)

-Provided by USBA staff

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