Zee Shan Safba Breaks Through at Mr. Cue Billiards
By Alison M. Fischer, NYCgrind.com
The Ozone Billiards Predator 9-ball Tour was hosted by Mr. Cue Billiards in Lindenhurst, NY on August 14-15th. This $1,000-added event was worth double points as this 12th stop of the season was a warm-up for the upcoming Seminole Tribe of Florida Empire State Championships.
A total field of 52 players came out to take a shot at the $1,000 first prize, including Scott Simonetti, Stewart Warnock, Michael Yednak, Charlie Lentini, Jerry Tarantola, John Alicea and Mike Panzarella. Four of the tour’s lady players, Gail Glazebrook, Linda Cheung, Borana Andoni, and Diana Rojas also came out to battle. Diana would be the eventual highest-finishing female, placing tied for 9th.
The tournament bracket for this event was split up between the A/B players the C/D players. Rene Villalobos was impressive in grinding out several tough wins over Taran Gunness 7-4, Anthony Zoccolillo 7-5, and Bob Schlott 7-6, before losing a nail-biter to Zee Shan Safba 7-6.
Zee Shan fought through the C/D bracket with wins over Linda Cheung 7-4, Pat Dibuono 7-6, Al Frances 7-3, and ultimately Rene. This run set up a hot seat match against Mr. Cue veteran house player, Charlie Lentini… which ended in Zee Shan’s favor at 7-4.
Several C/D players were also putting together impressive performances on the one-loss side, including Diana Rojas, Anthony Zoccolillo, Al Frances, and Bob Schlott. After losing to Zee Shan Safba on the winner’s side, Rene squeaked out a close 7-6 win over Bob Schlott, lining up the quarterfinal match against Scott Murphy, who was grinding through the A/B west side of the bracket.
Scott Murphy is the owner of Mr. Cue Billiards, and proved that the house room advantage can definitely come into play. Scott, who is rated a B, lost his first round to one of the favorites, John Alicea (7-6), then began an impressive comeback. Scott battled through the one-loss side with wins over Chris Laz 7-6, Bob Mammarella 7-2, Michael Yednak 7-6, Ryan Klett 7-2, T.J. 7-3, Scott Simonetti 7-4, Stewart Warnock 7-5, Jerry Tarantola 7-3 and ultimately Rene Villalobos 7-3.
This long battle set Scott up for the semifinal match against house man Charlie Lentini, who had previously lost to Zee Shan Safba in the hot seat match. Before losing to Zee Shan, Charlie has been the player to beat, having wins over Darren DeFilippis 7-3, Raphael Dabreo 7-0, T.J. 7-3, Stewart Warnock 7-0, and Jerry Tarantola 7-3.
In the semifinal match between the two house players, Scott Murphy emerged victorious with a dominant 7-3 score. The final match was then set between Scott and Zee Shan Safba. When the dust settled, it was Bellerose, Queens player Zee Shan Safba who edged out a hill-hill 9-8 victory, breaking through for his first Predator Tour win.
This stop on the Predator Tour also featured a $300 added second day, single elimination event. Ten players participated, and rising to the top of the bracket were Tony Sinacore & Scott Murphy, who split in the final, each taking $180. Coming in tied for 3rd/4th were Shawn Sookhai & Geoff Conway, winning $60.
The top finishing players in this event enjoyed earning double points, which boosted up their season ranking status as they prepare for the upcoming Seminole Tribe of Florida Empire State Championship. This banner event will take place at Raxx Pool Room over the weekend of September 4-5, and boasts an $8,000-added prize fund. The added funds are made possible in part by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
1st: Zee Shan Safba – $1,000
2nd: Scott Murphy – $600
3rd: Charlie Lentini – $450
4th: Rene Villalobos – $300
5th/6th: Bob Schlott, Jerry Tarantola – $225
7th/8th: Stewart Warnock, Anthony Zoccolillo -$150
9th-12th: Diana Rojas, Frankie Cologne, Scott Simonetti, Al Frances – $100