PINOY PRIDE EYES THE PRIZE
By Ted Lerner
WPA Press Officer
Photos Courtesy of Tai Chengzhe
(Beijing)–Whenever the Philippines and Chinese-Taipei square off in pool, it’s a guarantee that the sparks are going to fly amongst two of pool’s giants. But tonight in the quarterfinals of the World Pool Team Championship at the Tongzhou Luhe High School in sultry Beijing, the two squads put on a memorable show that was like a raucous New Year’s Eve fireworks display. And after enough dramatic twists and turns to last the whole year, the Philippines eked out a thrilling 4-2 victory right at the wire to advance to the semi-finals of pool’s biggest team event.
There the proud Pinoys will have to buckle down yet again, as they will face a strong China I squad, who will have the backing of not only the hundreds of fans who are expected to attend in person, but over 1.5 million people who will be tuning in on television. That semi-final will take place at 1PM(GMT +8)
Chinese pool fans, who literally number in their tens of millions, will have even more to cheer about in the second semi-final, as the other hometown team, China II, will face Japan in a match that will begin at 6:30PM.
That the 2014 World Pool Team Championship has come down to an all-Asian final four is not much of a surprise. With each team featuring at least one woman, and the great majority of the best women players being from Asia, it was clear from the beginning that the Asian teams would have the advantage.
The Philippines began the day on Thursday as one of the favorites to the take the crown, as they had been playing brilliantly in the group stages over the previous three days. After easily downing Indonesia in the round of 16 in the first session, the Pinoys, featuring Dennis Orcollo, Lee Vann Corteza, Carlo Biado and Rubilen Amit, came up against their arch rivals and the defending champions of this event, Chinese-Taipei, who brought back the same winning side from 2012–Chang Jun Lin, Ko Pin Yi, Fu Che Wei and Chou Cheih Yu. The Taiwanese were also one of the favorites but they had a much tougher opponent in the round of 16 in Austria. Taiwan, though, continued their fine play and beat the Austrians 4-2.
The Philippines versus Taiwan literally screamed “Marquee Matchup” and could have been a worthy final. Indeed, as could be expected, the proceedings were close the entire way. The two teams split the 8 ball singles and 8-ball doubles matches, then split the men’s 9-ball and women’s 9-ball. The two teams were tied at 2-2, and as the two 10 ball matches began, everyone in the arena began predicting the proceedings would be decided by a thrilling shootout.
Indeed it certainly looked to be headed that way as both matches, which were played on adjoining tables, headed for the cliff at exactly the same time with the outcome in doubt down to the final ball.
In the race to 7, 10-ball singles, Orcollo got out to a 5-2 lead over arch rival Chang Jung Lin, only to see Chang storm back to tie at 5-5. Orcollo took the next rack and Chang took the next to leave a sudden death decider. The two traded pots and several safeties before Orcollo barely pulled off the win.
On the other table, the Philippine pair of Biado and Amit also squandered a 5-2 lead and even saw the pair of Fu and Chou move to the hill first at 6-5. Amit, who has been a rock for team Philippines all week, stayed steady, as did Biado, and they tied the match at 6-6. In the final rack, Fu broke dry and Biado and Amit stepped up for a nervy clear, and a spot in the final four.
“We were lucky we didn’t lose or it didn’t go to a shootout,” a thrilled Orcollo said afterward. “I was so nervous. We want to win this for the entire Philippines. We want to make all Filipinos proud.”
The Pinoys will come into the semis an even bet when they take on the absolutely loaded China 1 with the likes of Li He Wen, Wu Jiaqing, Chu Bing Chia, Women’s World 9-ball Champion Han Yu and Chen Siming. China 1 had no trouble in the Final 16 today, handily downing an overmatched Singapore team, 4-1.
China 1, though, had to go deep in their quarterfinal match against a very scrappy Poland. The Poles, who beat Croatia in the round of 16, are one of the class programs in the sport of pool and they played like it against China. Down 3-1, Poland had China 1 even midway through their two 10-ball matches and was looking at a possible shootout to pull off a miracle upset. But the Chinese were simply too good, winning 4-1 to claim their much deserved spot in the semi-finals.
As strong as China 1 looked, their counterparts in China 2 have looked even better. China 2, with Liu Haitao, Dang Ching Hu, Wang Can, Fu Xiaofang, Liu Shasha, were absolutely untouchable all day today, first crushing Sweden 4-0, then mercilessly manhandling Great Britain by the same score.
Afterward, former Women’s World 9-ball Champion Fu Xiao Fang talked about how she and her teammates have dealt with the pressures of playing for the world’s most populous nation.
“As you know,” Fu said through an interpreter, “as a pro player we strive to win every match. But this event is not like an individual event. We are playing for our country. There’s more pressure than an individual event. And the first day most of our team were not in the best form. Our coach helped us get through the obstacles by sitting us down together where we could share our feelings. Since then we’ve played much better. This is a team and we all share the burden so we can earn honors for our country.”
China 2 will certainly come into their semi-final against Japan as a favorite, but not that heavy a favorite, as the fun-loving Japanese seem to have a knack for survival. After taking care of the USA in the round of 16, 4-1, Japan–with veterans Naoyuki Oi, Sasaaki Tanaka, Hayato Hijikata and Chichiro Kawahara, faced a confident Germany in the quarterfinals. Germany had earlier outlasted a tough Russian squad, 4-2.
Germany, with the likes of Ralf Souquet and Thorsten Hohmann, took the lead at 3-2, only to see Japan tie with a win in the 10-ball doubles. This sent the match into the first shootout of the tournament. In the shootout, the teams traded attempts at a highly difficult, full table cut shot on the 8-ball with the first team to make 6 pots, and win by two, becoming the winner of the match. Germany held the early lead in the shootout at 3-2, but Japan came back and eventually won the shootout 7-5, to grab the last spot in the Final Four.
The Japanese wild celebrations afterward made it a fitting ending to a thrilling day of professional team pool.
The winner of the 2014 World Pool Team Championship will take home $80,000 while the runner up will take home $40,000. The total prize fund is $300,000.
*The WPA is on hand in Beijing to bring fans around the world full updated coverage of the 2014 World Pool Team Championship.
You can follow the World Pool Team Championship on our Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/worldpoolteamchampionship.
The WPA is also on Twitter @poolwpa.
Or visit our website at www.wpapool.com
*The World Pool and Billiard Association(WPA) is the governing body of the sport of pocket billiards.
The Liado U Valley World Pool Team Championship is sanctioned by the WPA, The Multi-Ball Games Administrative Center of General Administration of Sport, Chinese Billiard and Snooker Federation, Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sport, Beijing Sports Federation.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 1
CHINA 1 VS PHILIPPINES 1PM (GMT +8)
CHINA 2 VS. JAPAN 6:30PM
China I, 4 -1 Poland
Philippines 4 -2 Chinese-Taipei
China II 4 – 0 Great Britain
Japan 3 -3 Germany (Japan wins in shootout, 7-5)
RESULTS FINAL 16
China I, 4 – 1 Singapore
Poland 4 – 1 Croatia
Philippines 4 – 0 Indonesia
Chinese-Taipei 4- 2 Austria
China II 4- 0 Sweden
Great Britain 4 – 1 Vietnam
Germany 4 – 2 Russia
Japan 4 – 1 USA
Semi-finals will be played on Friday, 1PM and 6:30PM
Finals will be played on Saturday at 2PM
FORMAT: In each match between two countries, the two teams play each other in a set of six matches, all alternate break; two races in 8 ball, two in 9-ball and two in 10-ball. One 8-ball match is men’s scotch doubles, race to 6. The other 8-ball match is a men’s singles, race to 6. In 9-ball, the teams compete in a women’s singles, race to 8, and a men’s singles race to 8. In 10-ball, the teams play one mixed doubles match(scotch doubles), race to 7, and one men’s singles match race to 7. The female player must play in the 10-ball mixed doubles match, and a 9-ball match. No player is permitted to play more than two matches per session.
SHOOTOUT: If a match ends up 3-3 in the knockout stage, the winner will be decided by a shootout. In a shootout the 8 ball is placed in the middle of the table down near the short rail, level with the first diamond, while the cue ball is placed way down at the head string. The three men and one woman on each team take turns trying to pot the 8-ball in either far corner. All players play in sequence and the team to score six hits first with a margin of two or more(6-4, 7-5, etc.) wins the match and advances to the next round.
China 1—Li He Wen, Wu Jiaqing, Chu Bing Chia, Han Yu, Chen Siming
Philippines–Dennis Orcollo, Lee Vann Corteza, Carlo Biado, Rubilen Amit
China 2—Liu Haitao, Dang Ching Hu, Wang Can, Fu Xiaofang, Liu Shasha
Japan—Naoyuki Oi, Sasaaki Tanaka, Hayato Hijikata, Chichiro Kawahara