Saturday, September 24, 2011

Van Boening takes lead in Challenge Match

But "The Lion" Pagulayan led during much of the first night action

After struggling for much of the night, American pool star Shane Van Boening dramatically ran seven racks straight to take a 35-31 lead during the first night of his challenge match with Alex "The Lion" Paguluyan in Las Vegas.

Van Boening -- or SVB as he's known to many fans -- continues the winner-take-all 10-ball contest with Pagulayan tonight. Both players have put up $10,000. The winner goes home with $20,000. The loser goes home busted.

Van Boening looked off his game for much of the night, missing several shots and making position errors on others. On several occasions he failed to run out with just a ball or two left.

For a long stretch Van Boening trailed the steady-playing Pagulayan by about five games, and he seemed utterly incapable of closing the gap.  "He's weak. He's broken down. The (tight) pockets are stopping his barrages," commentator Billy Incardona noted about halfway through the grueling 7 hours of play Friday night.

But then Van Boening, trailing 31-28, came roaring back, stringing together a 7-pack to finish out the set. "Damdest thing I ever saw," said event promoter Justin Collett.

Play resumes tonight at 6:30 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, and ends when one of the competitors wins 70 games. The race-to-100 event finishes Sunday. The pay-per-view event is sponsored by The Action Report, which earlier streamed similar challenge matches featuring Earl Strickland and Mika Immonen. You can find out more here.

Participants of an informal poll on the 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

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