BY LUKE RICHES
(MANILA)–TWO-TIME PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool winners Philippines B – Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante – comfortably progressed to the last eight of this year’s competition following their 8-5 victory over India at the Block Atrium at the SM Mall North in Quezon City, Manila.
The Indian pair of Raj ’the Hitman’ Hundal and Amar ’AK47′ Kang, resplendent in the winning shirts in the ’best dressed’ competition, were once again lead into the arena by a glamourous model scattering rose petals ahead of them.
The crowd always play a part in the success of the Filipino pair but the Indian duo quietened them down considerably as they levelled the match at 4-4. That put all the pressure on the Filipinos, but they responded superbly as they picked up the pace to out play their opponents for the win.
The Indians acquitted themselves well and bearing in mind that Kang had never played on TV before, they were a credit to their nation.
“We got lucky again,” said Reyes, echoing his regular catchphrase but the truth is that there was plenty of skill and shot-making and their likely quarter-final opponents, Germany, will have their hands full on Saturday.
The PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool features 32 two-player teams representing 31 nations – hosts Philippines have two sides. The total prize-fund is $250,000 with $60,000 going to the winning pair.
Earlier, Sweden became the first team through to the quarter-finals in a fantastically entertaining second round match against qualifiers Switzerland. Both teams were shaky at best with Ronni Regli for Switzerland and Thomas Mehtala (Sweden) having particularly torrid times of it.
The final score was 8-6 but that barely told the story of one of the craziest matches in World Cup history. The Swiss team of Regli and the imposing Dimitri Jungo started where they left off following their defeat of defending champions China on Tuesday, as they moved into a 4-0 lead.
The Swedes though, took the next four to level the score at 4-4 and they share the next two to make the score 5-5. Sweden, who looked dead and buried, won the next two after both sides had chances following some errors and they were on the hill.
The next rack was the last and what an amazing rack it was. Regli first missed the 4-ball, then Mehtala left Chamat in a shocking position with hampered cueing and Chamat produced a heroic effort to get Sweden back on course.
His partner though missed a straight-forward 6-ball but Regli couldn’t take his second chance as he missed the 7-ball and almost walked out of the arena in disgust.
Dimitri Jungo, who had been excellent throughout, put a comforting arm round Regli’s shoulder as the Swiss-Filipino felt the heat. Chamat pocketed the 8-ball and started dancing as he sensed victory.
Mehtala, who looked a bag of nerves in the latter stages of this match, stayed strong when he needed to and downed a simple the 9-ball for the win.
“It was an amazing game. I’ve played so many games over years and that’s one of the worst games I’ve been involved in!” said a delighted Chamat.
“I will always remember this game, just like I remember the Mosconi Cup games. You have to show a lot of heart and dig deep down but it wasn’t about pool, it was about seeing straight.”
Earlier in the day the remainder of the first round matches were held and it was a strong Polish squad who impressed the most. Poland has had some success in previous years at the PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool, and they kicked off this years campaign with an impressive 8-0 whitewash of Vietnam.
Radoslaw Babica, an ever-present in the Polish World Cup side since the event’s inception in 2006, was this time joined by Karol Skowerski and they set about the hapless Vietnamese with abandon.
“We’ve known each other for more than ten years, play in the same club and have played together in the Polish National Championships and the Polish League,” said Skowerski.
The knowledge of each other’s games was paramount and the match was a bit of a procession as the confidence drained from the Vietnamese.
“Two weeks ago we won the Polish Scotch Doubles Championships and it was an easy win so that’s why we’re so confident,” said Babica.
“We started very well and that’s why the match went our way. We started with two run outs, he missed and then it was 4-0. That made them more nervous and we had less pressure.
“But it was just one match and if we play like that and our opponents play like that then we will win the next match. Every match is different and we’ll just concentrate on our next opponent and try to play our best,” he added.
In the second match of the session, Malta made it six first round exits out of six as they went down to Canadian pair John Morra and Jason Klatt by 8-4. The Maltese pair made too many errors to stay in contention, and Canada can now look forward to meeting Orcollo and Alcano in the next round.
In the first match of the day Chinese Taipei, a perennial powerhouse of the world pool scene, advanced to the second round with a comfortable 8-4 victory over Russia.
The Taiwanese were represented by brothers Ko Pin-yi (22) a former WPA World Junior Champion and his 15 year-old brother Ko Ping-chun – the first time siblings have competed in the World Cup.
Their opponents Russia, with Ruslan Chinakhov and Konstantin Stepanov on board, looked to have been in with a chance but the clinical Taiwanese were too good from the off. The Russians stayed with them in the early stages but always trailed as the Chinese Taipei brothers looked relaxed and confident.
They were never put under sufficient pressure and looked to have a couple more gears available to them if the need arises. They now meet Italy in the second round, who came from behind to beat Hong Kong in a scrappy thriller.
It was Hong Kong’s Lee Chenman and Kenny Kwok who were in the driving seat throughout their round one match against Italy, as the Italians laboured. Leading 4-2, the methodical Kwok and his partner looked to be putting some distance between them and their opponents, but Chenman missed an easy 9 ball to gift the rack to the Italians.
Instead of 5-2 to Hong Kong, it’s was 4-3 and the turning point, and when the Italians won the next it was game on. Hong Kong, though, kept their noses in front as they moved to 6-5. A mistake from Chenman lets the Italians in for 6-6 and they win the next two to take the match.
“We’re pleased with the result and happy that we stuck with it when we were behind but we will have to play a lot better in our next match which we can do,” said Petroni.
Results to date – Round One
Chinese Taipei 8 – 4 Russia
Italy 8 – 6 Hong Kong
Singapore 8 – 7 USA
Philippines A 8 – 2 Austria
Estonia 8 – 6 England
Thailand 8 – 4 Holland
Germany 8 – 0 Australia
Malaysia 8 – 6 France
India 8 – 7 Finland
Philippines B 8 – 4 Kuwait
Korea 8 – 5 Spain
Japan 8 – 3 Croatia
Switzerland 8 – 5 China
Sweden 8 – 7 Indonesia
Last 16 Results
Sweden 8 – 6 Switzerland
Philippines B 8 – 5 India
Notes: Matchroom Sport are one of the world’s leading producers of televised sport and are responsible for over 1,100 hours of original programming across a range of sports. Based in the UK and chaired by charismatic founder Barry Hearn, the World Cup of Pool is one of a stable of pool events that include the World Pool Masters and the Mosconi Cup.