Kosovo triumphed in the first round of the Balkan Billiards Association Men’s and Youth Championships.

On 02/03.02.2024, in Thessaloniki, Greece, the first round of tournaments organized by the Balkan Billiards Association took place. The tournament saw participation from 88 players from Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Turkey. Two players from Kosovo reached the final, who had finished 1st and 3rd respectively in the previous year’s edition: Labinot Markaj and Faton Bajgora. Labinot Markaj emerged victorious in the Kosovar final with a score of 9 to 2. The third-place positions in the tournament were claimed by Greek players George Kampourlidis and Orestis Psomopoulos. George Kampourlidis lost to Labinot Markaj with a score of 5 to 9, while Orestis Psomopoulos had to skip the semifinals. Among the top 5 finishers in the tournament were four players from Turkey, North Macedonia, and Bulgaria. Daniel Todorov lost the quarterfinal battle to George Kampourlidis with a score of 4 to 9. North Macedonian player Mirsad Zeqiri lost to the silver medalist Faton Bajgora with a score of 5 to 9. Two Turkish players also secured 5th place. Ferdi Ozdemir lost a closely contested match for a medal to Orestis Psomopoulos with a score of 7 to 9, while his teammate Vedat Ilel lost to the champion Labinot Markaj with a score of 2 to 9. The highest-ranking youth player in the tournament was Blendi Qazimi from North Macedonia, who lost in the round of 16 to his compatriot Mirsad Zeqiri with a score of 7 to 9. Free entry to the Euro Tour provided by EPBF and BBA was won by the finalists of the tournament Labinot Markaj and Faton Bajgora. Due to Faton Bajgora’s inability to travel to Tallinn, Estonia, the Balkans will be represented at the first Euro Tour of the year by Labinot Markaj and George Kampourlidis. We wish them success in representing the Balkans with dignity.

Parallel to the men’s tournament, a tournament for Under-19 youth was held. It featured 11 players from Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Kosovo, and Greece. Once again, Kosovo triumphed in the tournament through the youth player Mal Shehu, who defeated Ilija Dimovski from North Macedonia in the final with a score of 7 to 2. The two third-place positions were shared by another youth player from North Macedonia, Andrej Gjurchinovski, who lost in the semifinals to his compatriot Ilija Dimovski with a score of 3 to 5. In the other semifinal, Viktor Todorov lost to the tournament winner Mal Shehu with a score of 0 to 5 and settled for the bronze medal.

The second round of tournaments for men and youth of the Balkan Billiards Association will take place on 02/03.03.2024 in Skopje, North Macedonia. The event will be hosted by Gran Club. We look forward to seeing you soon!

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