Filler Fights Through on Third Day of Alfa Las Vegas Open
Friday night’s match between Germany’s Joshua Filler and Filipino Jeffrey De Luna had a little bit of everything.
You had De Luna winning a game by forcing his opponent to commit three fouls in a single rack and you had Filler stealing a game back when the Filipino managed to jump over his object ball not once, but twice.
In the end, the undefeated Filler was able to capitalize on De Luna’s breaking struggles and pull out a three-set victory, advancing to the round-of-32 on the third day of play at the Alfa Las Vegas Open at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino. The German will now face reigning World 10-Ball champion Wojciech Szewczyk Saturday morning for a chance to reach the final 16 of the 192-player event.
After Filler staked out an early 2-1 lead in the opening set, De Luna had a chance to tie the match but left the 5 ball in the corner pocket’s jaws. Now Trailing by two racks, the Filipino used a jump shot and two banks to pull to within a game and had a chance to tie but came up short trying to secure position on the 2 ball, then missed a kick shot that allowed Filler to take the opening frame, 4-2.
De Luna opened the second set by forcing that three-foul on Filler, snagged the third rack when his opponent failed to pocket a ball on the break then used a safety exchange to climb onto the hill. He finished off the set and tied the match when Filler missed a sharp cut on the 3 ball and left a wide-open table.
The former China Open champion used safeties to win the first three racks — including the one that forced that double missed jump shot by De Luna. The Filipino wasn’t finished, using a safety of his own and a positional error by his opponent to tack on two straight victories. He had a chance to tie the match and send it to a shootout but failed to pocket a ball on the break, handing Filler a spaced out table and the win.
On a nearby table, former World Pool champion Shane Van Boening was authoring an escape of his own, climbing back from a deficit in the third set to defeat fellow American Jeremy Seaman.
Van Boening was in total control of the first set as he blanked his opponent, 4-0, but lost momentum in the next frame, with Seaman jumping out to a commanding 3-0 advantage. The South Dakotan clawed his way back into the match, winning three straight racks to tie the set but scratched on the break in the deciding game, handing Seaman a 4-3 victory.
After splitting the first four games of the deciding match, Seaman took a 3-2 lead when his opponent missed a jump shot and left an open table. With a change to close out the match and clinch the upset, he misplayed his safety attempt into a scratch, slapping the table in disgust as he walked back to his seat. The three-time U.S. Open 10-Ball champion cleared the table to force a shootout, then pocketed four straight stop shots in the extra frame while Seaman missed his opening attempt to hand his opponent the victory.
As the men worked through the single-elimination portion of their event, the women’s division of the Alfa Las Vegas Open began play Friday afternoon in dramatic fashion, as Allison Fisher overcame some early struggles to defeat Vang Bui Xuan of Vietnam.
Fisher was plagued by errors throughout the first set, as Xuan sailed to a 4-1 win, then continued to struggle with the speed of the table, allowing her opponent to capitalize and build a 3-1 second set lead. The Women’s Professional Billiards Tour Hall of Famer took advantage of a couple of unforced errors by her opponent in the middle stages of the set to tie the match, then used a safety exchange and a one rail kick in of the 7 ball to win the frame, 4-3, and force a shootout.
Each player was perfect in the extra frame through the first three innings but missed in their fourth attempt, sending the set to sudden death and moving the cue ball back a diamond on the table. After Fisher and Xuan rattled home their first three shots, the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Famer secured the win when she landed one more while her opponent missed.
Saturday will be pivotal in the men’s division, as 32 players compete for four spots in Sunday’s semifinals. Competition is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. local time, with notable matches including Albin Ouschan taking on Jung-Lin Chang, Fedor Gorst facing Ko Pin-Yi and Wiktor Zielinski matching up against fellow countryman Mieszko Fortunski.
Brackets and scores can be found at https://probilliardseries.com/2023-men/2023-alfa-las-vegas-open/