The Predator Sweet 16 is the completion of the Predator billiards competition that was postponed in Spain in 2009. Four very strong players representing the best of pool the world over remained today after the last sixteen battled it out yesterday at the famous Star Billiards Center in Quezon City - owned and managed by one of pool’s great benefactors, Mr. Sebastian Chua. These players include Rodney Morris (USA), David Alcaide (Spain), Neils Feijen (The Netherlands) aka The Terminator, and the lone Filipino - Lee Vann Corteza of the Negros Billiards Stable and JSY Sports.
Televised on ESPN Star Asia, the Predator Sweet 16 semi-finals saw Lee Vann Corteza, who sported a Diveney Cues shirt adorned with the Kopiko brand and the newly-redesigned JSY Sports logos, dominate David Alcaide, Spain’s number pool player. In the other match-up, Rodney Morris came out the winner against Neils Feijen. This now pitted Corteza against Morris in the jam-packed finals that had everybody glued to their seats - including yours truly!
Rodney Morris delivered the goods – quickly and effectively – by scoring four straight racks! However, Davao’s favorite son - Lee Van Corteza - was not to be denied his moment of glory in the motherland! The Slayer, who, I later learned silently prayed for an opportunity to return to the pool table when he was down 4-0, visciously slain the Rocket from the USA via seven (7) consecutive racks! Yes, you’ve read right, everyone! The Slayer strung 7 consecutive racks and initially nailed the Rocket to his first four. However, the latter summoned a second wind to inch up a game to 5 against the former's 7. And at 8-5, Lee Vann , The Slayer, took home the coveted Predator championship and the 10,000 Euros first prize!
And for those not in the know, the racks won by Lee Vann included a total of eight jump shots to boot – four of which he successfully pocketed the object ball! 'Twas one awesome feat!
One thing that impressed me was how dangerous Lee Vann Corteza has become on the pool table. Corteza is not just a pool player with excellent pocketing skills, superb position plays, and amazing cueball control. He has evolved into a thinking pool player – and at the top of his class, too! Did you notice that at each and every push-out, the Slayer would push the cueball behind a ball or a cluster of balls to effectively eliminate a perfect line of sight to the object ball? Yes, he did! The Slayer knew the various strengths of Rodney Morris’ game, one of which is pocketing. However, he was also very much aware of one of The Rocket’s weaknesses, e.g., the jump shot!
And unlike Morris, Corteza is very much adept with the jump shot – as shown by the stats above, i.e., 100% batting average with regard to effectively making the jump coupled with a very impressive 50% average of successfully pocketing of the object ball! If one remembers the finals match, Lee Vann successfully mixed defensive and offensive plays into one formidable tactic! The first time he got to break, Lee Vann, with no clear sight on the 1-ball, opted for a push-out. He hid the cueball behind the 4-ball, which totally blocked the straight line of sight to the 1-ball. Rodney Morris quickly gave the table back to Corteza.
The Slayer, without batting an eyelash, rested his beautiful Diveney cue at the side of his cue case, got hold of his jump cue, chalked it, jumped over the 4-ball and pocketed the 1-ball in the corner pocket, and successfully ran out the rack for his first score on the board! This had the crowd applauding! And this he did for a number of times against the Rocket, who eventually lost his momentum and all! The Rocket even tried to give the Slayer a dose of his medicine – but to no avail! Simply put, this tactic was just sheer brilliance on the part of the Slayer! And I kid you not!
Lee Vann Corteza did such and all amidst the presence of some of the who’s who in the world of pool. These included his sponsors Mr. Jonathan Sy (Negros Billiards Stable (NBS) and JSY Sports) and Mr. and Mrs. Pat Diveney (Diveney Cues) who flew in all the way from Iowa, Barry Behrman (US Open Founder and Promoter), Karim Belhaj (Predator CEO and President), Mrs. Verna Mariano (Bugsy Promotions President), Cindy Lee (Dragon Promotions CEO), the whole NBS squad, and some of the world’s top 60 players, e.g., Efren Bata Reyes, Francisco Django Bustamante, Alex Pagulayan aka The Lion, Marlon Manalo, Shane Van Boening, Johnny Archer, Thorsten Hohmann, Charlie Williams, Niels Feijen, Tony Drago, Oscar Dominguez, and more!
Indeed, there are many good pool players out there. All brilliant! All spectacular! But only one can fittingly be called and described as dangerous. And he is Lee Vann Corteza aka The Slayer!
You made the Filipinos proud! Mabuhay!