Matsunaga tops weekly 8-ball

Posted on Oct 29 2021

Ray Matsunaga, holding the trophy in this file photo, took home the championship of the weekly 8-ball tournament last Saturday at the New Bamboo Bar in Saipan. (Mark Rabago)

Ray Matsunaga won the weekly 8-ball tournament last Saturday at the New Bamboo Bar in Saipan Las Vegas Resort along Middle Road.

The 52-year-old cue artist started his evening with a win over Randy David. He then got the better of Rey Hermogenes in the next round before advancing to the finals with a win over veteran pool player Jerry Soriano. The semifinal win allowed the Susupe resident to get the all-important twice-to-beat advantage in the finals.

Paired against Arlon Buensalido in the championship round, Matsunaga was ambushed in Game 1 by the loser’s bracket topnotcher. Good thing he had that twice-to-beat advantage, as he got it all together in Game 2 to win the weekly title and the $50 first place purse. Buensalido earned $25 for the runner-up finish.

Buensalido had a tougher road to the finals. He got off on the wrong foot, losing to Soriano in the first round. He slowly climbed back to contention in the loser’s bracket, defeating Jess Fariñas, Hermogenes, and Lito Pagunsan before exacting revenge on opening round tormentor Soriano to earn the right to face Matsunaga in the finals. He surprised the winner’s bracket topnotcher in the first game, but lost steam in the second game.

Matsunaga remained humble after the win.

“There is no secret on my part. I do my best and I enjoy the sport of billiards, win or lose. There are many great players on Saipan and I am truly grateful for our friendships. I always try to keep in mind that I should stay humble in victory and cordial in defeat,” said Matsunaga when asked how he felt after winning the weekly tournament.

Matsunaga started playing in his teens, but stopped playing pool for roughly 17 years to take care for his father and grandmother. He returned to playing actively on Saipan’s billiards circuit around 2013.

A total of eight pool masters took part in the weekly 8-ball tournament at the New Bamboo Bar. The tournament, sponsored by New Bamboo Bar, Saipan Vegas, and Budweiser, is held every month and for more information, call Soriano at 588-1971.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at
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