Shortly after his match with Lee Vann Corteza, Alex Kazakis was just feeling fortunate to still be alive in the Rasson 10-Ball Masters Championship.
The Greek was able to take advantage of a couple of late unforced errors after making a few of his own to defeat the Filipino in a sudden death shootout at Astoria’s Steinway Billiards Friday afternoon. Kazakis is one of four players to remain undefeated after two days, qualifying him for Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Clinging to a 9-8 lead with a chance to get on the hill, Kazakis missed a straight in 8-ball in the corner pocket.
“I never miss that ball in my life,” he said after the match. “That’s crazy, but when you lose your focus just for one second on this kind of table you can miss anything.”
Sitting in his chair and watching his opponent close out the game to tie the match, he only had negative thoughts swirling in his head. His thought process and fortunes quickly changed, as Corteza misplayed position on the 7-ball in the following game. His opponent missed the ball, allowing Kazakis to tie the match and at least force overtime. Corteza won the 20th game to force the shootout, but then missed three of the four sudden death shots while Kazakis made the final three attempts after missing his first.
“I gave everything I had on the last four balls and that’s it,” Kazakis said. “I focused and I won.”
Dennis Orcullo also advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinals, surviving a late charge by Shane Van Boening and gutting out an 11-9 victory. With the match tied at four games each, Orcullo rattled off four consecutive victories to take an 8-4 lead. Van Boening was able to rally and tie the score by using some stellar shot making but lost control of the table after a dry break in the 17th game. Orcullo cleared the table, took advantage of a Van Boening miss on a sharp cut on the 10-ball in the next game and then broke and ran in the 19th game to close out the match.
Also qualifying for the weekend is Estonia’s Denis Grabe, winner of April’s Aramith 9-Ball Players Championship. Grabe defeated a previously red-hot Marc Bijsterbosch of the Netherlands, 11-6.
“The last match was quite even but, in the end, I was able to make some run outs and he was just sitting in the chair,” Grabe said. “I knew I needed to grind it out because he’s the European 10-ball champion, and if I give him a chance he will use it.”
Rounding out the final four undefeated players heading into Saturday is Alex Pagulayan, who was able to use some fortunate rolls to overcome some tough table conditions and put away U.S. Open 9-Ball champion Jayson Shaw, 11-8. The Filipino said after the match that humidity in the room changed how the table played in comparison to Thursday, resulting in both players struggling with break shots as well as how the rails responded.
“I’m very fortunate to win that match because I had a few rolls. Not A roll, a few. But if someone is going to get a few rolls it may was well be me,” Pagulayan said with a laugh.
Tomorrow’s quarterfinals will begin at 11 a.m. local time and admission is free for spectators.
The Rasson 10-Ball Masters Championship is the second event of the four-tournament 2018 World Pool Series. Created by Darren Appleton, the WPS is sponsored by Aramith, Rasson, Predator, Iwan Simonis, Tiger, and Kamui and our suppliers and partners are Billiards Digest, CueScore, Let’s Go Print, Outsville, UpState Al, and the WPA.
For more information on the WPS, please visit www.worldpoolseries.com.
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