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SWISS SEND DEFENDING CHAMP CHINA PACKING

SWISS SEND DEFENDING CHAMP CHINA PACKING

Dimitr Jungo and Ronni RegliRound 1 Results

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

BY LUKE RICHES

(MANILA)–DEFENDING PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool champions China were sensationally ousted from this year’s competition by a fighting Swiss team comprised of Dimitri Jungo and Ronni Regli at the SM Mall North in Manila.

The Chinese duo of Fu Jianbo and Li Hewen had won this competition twice in its five year history but were put under pressure every step of the way by Swiss, who whilst being underdogs, carried plenty of pedigree.

Jungo was a former WPA World Junior Champion in 2000 and recently bagged the German Open on the highly competitive Euro Tour. His partner Regli is half-Filipino and tends to fly under the radar but he came with the shots when it mattered.

The Chinese took a 2-0 lead but the Swiss held their own as they won three racks on the bounce to take the lead.  A missed pot from Fu in the next gave the Swiss another opportunity and they took it to go to 4-2. The match went 5-3 then 5-4 to the Swiss and it was anyone’s.

Looking more of a team though, Switzerland powered ahead to 7-4. There was a dry break from Regli but Li made a hash of the safety. The table was severely crowded in the centre but they carefully pick off the balls to record an outstanding victory.

“We’re both players who can beat anybody if we have a good day and we also have a good team spirit,” said a delighted Jungo.

“We’re a small country but there have always been good players from Switzerland. It’s unbelievable to beat China and we can play good and win the tournament. “

Regli commented, “It feels amazing and it was a dream of mine to play in a big event here in the Philippines. The last time I was here was 11 years ago but I’ve never played here before.”

The PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool takes place at the Block Atrium at the SM Mall North in Quezon City, Manila. It 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.

In a marquee matchup later in the evening 2006 and 2009 PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool Champions Philippines B, comprised of Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante, made their way into the last 16 of this year’s event with an 8-4 victory over plucky debutants Kuwait at the SM Mall North in Manila.

Nobody gave the Kuwait pair of Khaled Al Mutaira and Omar Al Shaheen any kind of hope but they did themselves proud, sticking with the Filipino pair in the early stages before succumbing down the home stretch.

Both sides wore snappy outfits based on their national flags, but it was the home side that the packed crowd had come to see. As predicted the Philippines started well and took the first two racks fairly quickly.

As huge underdogs, the Kuwaiti duo of Al Mutaira and Al Shaheen though were under no pressure at all, and that showed as they won the next two to silence the crowd.

The Philippines won the next two to restore their lead but the game Kuwaiti pair took the next to leave it poised at 4-3. A cracking long pot in the next from Bustamante set the Philippines on their way to taking the rack as the score stood at 5-3.

Reyes, who looked shaky in front of a home crowd in his World Pool Masters match earlier in the week, was anything but this time as he pulled out a few stunners from his never ending arsenal of shots.

One such reversed bank shot, set up a run out to move the score to 6-3. A miss from Bustamante on the 5 ball in the next gave the Kuwaitis a chance and they took it to cut the lead.

That would be the last meaningful effort from Team Kuwait and when they conceded the 9 ball in what was the last rack of the match to hand Philippines B an 8-4 win.

“It was good win and we can be pleased with that,” said Bustamante.

“The Kuwait team came to play and gave us a good match but we’re delighted to make it into the next round and hopefully we can go on from there.”

Earlier in the day, Team Sweden – Marcus Chamat and Thomas Mehtala – mounted a stirring comeback as they turned around a 5-1 deficit to record an 8-7 victory over a young Indonesian team.

Man of the match was Marcus Chamat, who showed a massive heart as he rallied his team-mate. Mehtala had made some nervous errors and looked under the cosh throughout, but his team mate carried him through when it mattered.

They got it back to 5-4 and then should have gone level but a shocker from Mehtala gifted the rack to the Indonesian team made up of Irsal Nasution and Riyan Setiawan. Indonesia reached the hill first at 7-5 after Mehtala missed a 9 ball.

The Swedes nicked the next with a ball in hand opportunity then completed the first break and run of the day to level things at 7-7. And they sealed the win by clearing a very difficult table under pressure in the final rack.

“At 5-1 down we weren’t thinking we were out but just wanted to see what we could do. But then we missed an easy 9-ball and then thought we would be losing if we kept making these mistakes,” said Chamat.

“I’m relieved to get through but we have a day’s rest and hopefully Thomas and I can practice and get some groove into our game, but if we play like this again then we will be flying home soon.”

Another thriller took place soon after India almost threw away a glorious lead against Finland but came back at the death to clinch a memorable victory.

The scene was set when Team India strode into the arena, lead by a glamourous model scattering rose petals ahead of them. It was an audacious move, as the pairing of Raj Hundal and Amar Kang, with eye-catching national shirts, brought a touch of Bollywood to the SM Mall in Quezon City.

Their opponents were a blend of youth and experience as Mika Immonen, a finalist in this event in 2007, was accompanied by Petri Makkonen, a 23 year old making his World Cup debut.

India moved ahead and at 5-1 up, the match looked to be as good as over. However, the nerves came in and the Finnish pair started to claw back the racks. India though, reached the hill at 7-3 and that’s when the drama started.

A ball-in-hand chance gave the Finns the next and then Kang missed the red 3 by some distance and the score soon became 7-5.

Makkonen played a blinder in the next, potting the four ball from a tough position, to give the Finns a chance in the 13th rack. He then enjoyed an outrageous piece of good fortune. Left with an angled table length shot on the 9 ball, the young Finn hit it hard and it stayed out.

It hit the opposite rail and rolled ever so slowly up table, seemingly stuck to the white in its latter stages before falling into the pocket on its very last roll. That made it 7-6 to the Indians but that became 7-7 when the Finns nervously ran out the rack.

India had their chance in the final rack after a poor safety from Immonen and every shot was a tester. Kang played a good shot to screw back for the 7 and they completed the run out to move into the next round and record their first ever win in the World Cup of Pool.

“I’m not sure that the wheels came off when we were leading but there’s a lot of pressure out there. Petri missed a 9-ball by a country mile and fluked it but that’s pool,” said Hundal.

Kang commented, “There was a lot of pressure in the first few games and I just tried to settle down but I enjoyed it all.”

In other matches, two Asian sides enjoyed a double whammy  as first Korea and then Japan overcame European opposition to advance to the second round.

It was Lee Gun Jae and Hwang Yong who looked the better team throughout against the more experienced David Alcaide and Francisco Diaz-Pizarro. The Koreans started faster, leading 4-1 and the Spaniards were never able to overcome that.

The PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool takes place at the Block Atrium at the SM Mall North in Quezon City, Manila. It 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.

In the second match of the later afternoon session, Team Japan looked outstanding as they disposed of the Croatian pair of Carlo Dalmatin and Ivica Putnik. Lead by reigning World 9 Ball Champion Yukio Akagariyama the Japanese overcame a shaky start to hit their stride and leave the Croatians in their wake.

The number two Japanese player, Lo Liwen, a naturalised Taiwanese, is no slouch himself as he has made a name for himself on the international stage in the past couple of years and his team looked a force to be reckoned with as they coasted to an 8-3 win.

Luke Riches, Matchroom Sport: luke.riches@matchroom.com  +44 7785 395688

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.

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