After running neck and neck with opponent Alex Pagulayan, American Shane Van Boening regained a razor thin lead in the The Action Report's winner-take-all challenge match underway this weekend in Las Vegas.
The score now stands at 70-67, Van Boening's favor. The competitors finished up the second night's set at about 3:30 a.m. Central Standard Time, after more than 10 hours of grueling play. The 10-ball marathon concludes tonight, with victory going to the first player to notch 100 victories.
But getting to 100 will be tough. Van Boening appears almost equally matched with Pagulayan, with the lead see-sawing back and forth Saturday night and into Sunday morning. Van Boening began the night four games ahead, and ended it only three games ahead. The score was completely tied on several occasions Saturday.
Pagulayan's greatest barrage came late in the session, and concluded with a long-rail combo that opened a 66-61 lead, the largest margin of the evening. But Van Boening grinded back, eventually tied the score and then finishing out the evening on top. It appeared that Van Boening made more unforced errors throughout the evening, but was carried through by the power of his thunderous break.
Play resumes tonight at 6:30 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, with the winner pocketing $20,000 and second place going home broke. Both players paid a $10,000 "entry fee" to compete in the two-man tournament.
The pay-per-view event is sponsored by The Action Report, which earlier streamed similar challenge matches featuring Earl Strickland and Mika Immonen. Participants of an informal poll on the poolhistory.com Facebook page picked Van Boening as the heavy favorite to win the event. You can also pick a winner at the separate poll, listed on the right-hand panel of this page.
-- R.A. Dyer