FINNS FINISH OFF GERMANS

FINNS FINISH OFF GERMANS

Round 2
Finland 8-4 Germany
Philippines B 8-5 Canada

Round 1

Japan 8-6 Russia
Holland 8-7 Croatia
Poland 8-6 Australia
Italy 8-7 Vietnam

By Luke Riches/Matchroom Sport

(Manila, Philippines)–THE FIRST two quarter-final spots have been decided at the 2012 PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool as the Finnish pair of Mika Immonen and Petri Makkonen ousted defending champions Germany, and then home-town heroes Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante kept Filipino dreams alive as they scored an emotional win over Canada.

At 4-2 up the Canadians looked well set, as Alex Pagulayan and John Morra looked confident in contrast to their opponents who looked under the cosh and under pressure in front of thousands of their countrymen.

Slowly though the tide began to turn as Reyes came with some shots that had the crowd on their feet as Pagulayan missed a couple of critical balls. The big moment came in the 12th rack when, with two balls on the ball, Reyes played a trademarked table length bank on the 8 ball, leaving an easy 9 ball for Bustamante to out the team on the hill.

A dry break with the 1 ball on was not what Bustamante wanted but when Pagulayan dogged an easy 6 ball, it was all over as the huge crowd understandably went nuts. They now play Finland in the quarter-finals.

Commented Reyes: “At the beginning there was too much pressure. My hands were shaking, but when they make a few mistakes I started to feel better and I calmed down.  You have to play good against these guys because Canada is good. But Alex make like four mistakes so that’s no good for them.“

On his clutch 8-ball bank in rack 12: “I can’t play safe on that shot. The cue ball is close to the 8-ball and that makes the pocket bigger so it’s better to play offense.  I have no choice because there is nowhere to hide the ball.”

Bustamante added, “We have to be careful against Finland because they are playing good. But me and Efren are practicing every day. Our one weak point right now is that we are no good in breaking. So if we can fix the break, we got a good chance.

“The crowd is really supportive of us. They are amazing and we love all the support from the Filipino people. It’s always fun to play in the Philippines and especially the Matchroom events. We really want to thank everybody for their support.”

The 2012 PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool runs from Tuesday September 4 to Sunday, September 9 at Robinson’s Place, Ermita, Manila.  Once again the total prize fund is US$250,000 with $60,000 going to the eventual champions.

Earlier, defending champions Germany fell by the wayside, ousted 8-4 by an in-form Finnish team who are improving all the way. In a match featuring three World Pool Champions, it was Mika Immonen and Petri Makkonen who prevailed looking the sharper team throughout.

After their opening round win against Korea, Immonen predicted that the German pair of Thorsten Hohmann and Ralf Souquet could well be in for a torrid time and his apposite words proved correct as the Finns overcame German resistance in the early stages to race away with it.

Germany moved in to a 4-3 lead after Immonen missed an easy 9 ball, but the Finns nicked the next and then broke and ran the ninth game to take the lead. Two more excellent run outs put the Finnish pair on the hill and when Ralf Souquet leaves poor position, the Finns take over the table and coolly run the balls to take the match and move into the quarter-finals.

Commented Mika Immonen, “We broke better than them and that was totally huge. I could see they were struggling. Their break was all over the place and that put a lot of pressure on them.

“Petri is coming along great and he made some great shots. We are working as a unit, we just KO’d the defending champions and we can do anything.”

Makkonen added “We played a perfect match. Everything went right for us and we are playing very well together.”

Earlier in the day the first round was completed and saw wins for Poland, Italy Japan and Holland as the $250,000 event reached the second round stage on Thursday night.

In days first matches, there were close fought wins for both Japan and Holland. The Japanese pair of Naoyuki Oi and veteran Satoshi Kawabata edged past a nervous Russian side by 8-6, while Nick Van den Berg and Huidji See came back from the dead to oust Croatia.

In front of a fair sized crowd the Dutch looked relaxed as they opened up a 3-1 lead. However, the Croatian pair of Karlo Dalmatin and Philipp Stojanovic were made of sterner stuff and grew in confidence as they surged ahead winning four racks on the spin to move into a 5-3 lead.

The comeback dented the Dutchmen’s esteem and at 6-4 up, the Croatians delivered a dry break but the Dutch ran out of position and ultimately Van den Berg missed a 5 ball made more difficult than it should have been because of that bad position.

Croatia cleared to move one away from victory at 7-4 but there was plenty of drama left.

The Dutch got the better of a safety exchange to take the next and then ran out from the break for 6-7. Despite a dry break in the next, Van den Berg potted a sensational 1 ball to lead the charge to another hill-hill thriller.

The deciding rack was not short on drama as See saw a long difficult shot on the 3 ball and missed badly. Stojanovic though made a major error as he missed the 4 ball and left an open table and the match belonged to Holland.

“I can’t express how much joy there is right now in Team Holland,” said Van den Berg.

“Being down 7-4 and coming back with the right shots. I haven’t been that nervous in a while. But hey, that’s what you play for – excitement and finish!”

Stojanovic said, “We were under a lot of pressure at the end and yes, I dogged that 4 ball. I think they had way more rolls than us. From 7-4 they had a lot more rolls but it happens. We try to enjoy, we wanted to win and we put a lot of pressure on them.”

In spite of representation from some of the best players in the world over the last few years – Van den Berg, Lely, Diks, See, Feijen – the Dutch have never made any significant progress in this event. Maybe 2012 is their year.

In the other match, Japan got the better of Russia after Stepanov and Pavlukhin came back from a 0-4 deficit to make a match of it.

In the end the match hinged on a critical miscue from the 17 year-old Pavlukhin with an easy run out on and the score resting at 7-6 to Japan. He tried to bang the 7 ball into the centre pocket and go three rails for position but totally miscued, failing to hit the object ball, to give ball in hand and victory to the tidy Japanese team.

Stepanov said, “When you make a comeback like we did that’s when the pressure comes in. What can I say? Vitaly needs to learn a few shots. It was really a one or two rail shot and he wanted to play a three rail shot.

“It’s OK, because he played a couple of great shots earlier. He’ll learn. He’s young and he’s got a lot of talent. The break shot was very difficult. We just couldn’t make a ball on the break. But then again neither could they.”

In the opening match of the afternoon session, the Polish pair of Karol Skowerski and Wojciech Szewcyk had to overcome a huge 5-1 deficit as the Australian pair of Ian Barber and Dave Reljic seemed to be cruising to an easy win.

But as we have seen, pool doesn’t often succumb to such pat endings and the Poles dug in winning four successive racks to level at 5-5 and leave the Aussies reeling. However Reljic and Barber gave themselves a massive shot in the arm as they won the next but the Poles scrapped out a messy 12th rack to leave it all poised at 6-6.

The Poles broke and ran the next under enormous pressure to take the lead for the first time and then repeated the same in what was the final game for a great victory against a game Australian duo.

It had been a long day so far and out of a possible 60 racks in the four afternoon matches, 58 were played.

The final first round match was also a hill-hill thriller and it was Italy’s Fabio Petroni and Bruno Muratore who ground it out against the Vietnamese underdogs of Nguyen Anh Tuan and Do The Kien.

The match went back and forth until both sides stood at seven racks apiece the 15th and final rack got underway, and what a rack it was.

A good break off for Vietnam but Do scratched on the two ball, which given the circumstances was heartbreak for Vietnam.  Petroni though left a tough cut in the side for Bruno who missed the 7 ball to hand a life line to the Asians.

Luckily for Italy the leave was not easy, and then Do fouled when he completely missed the 7 ball. It went right down to the last ball as Muratore left a tough cut on the 9 after a ball in hand. Nobody seemed to want to win but in the end it was Italy.

The 2012 PARTYPOKER.NET World Cup of Pool is sponsored by PartyPoker.net, the world’s leading online poker school. Cloth is supplied by Iwan Simonis, Super Aramith balls by Saluc, tables by Diamond Billiards and the Official Cue is Predator.

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