European Billiards Team Prevails at Mosconi Cup XIV
by InsidePOOL Staff
Going into Sunday’s matches at Mosconi Cup XIV, held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV, up 9-6 in the race to 11, Team Europe put together a thrilling 11-8 victory.
Sunday’s matches were all singles competitions, with the USA sending in heavy-hitting Shane Van Boening, while Team Europe decided on one of their two rookies, Konstantin Stepanov of Russia. A break and run by both players from the start brought the score to 1-all, but then errors began plaguing both until the score reached 4 apiece. A failed safety attempt by Stepanov put Van Boening on the hill, and “The South Dakota Kid” took advantage of an open shot on the 2 ball in the last rack to win 6-4.
Veteran Mosconi Cup teammate Johnny Archer faced off against Team Europe’s other rookie player, Tony Drago, in the second match. With the score tied at 2 apiece, Archer looked poised for a break and run-out but rattled the 9 ball to the dismay of the U.S. fans in the audience. Drago snatched that rack and then the next after Archer fouled on the 5. A foul break by Archer then put Drago on the hill, and Archer only put another game under his belt before Drago found a window on the 1 ball and ran out, winning 6-3 to put Team Europe on the hill.
Still in a feisty mood, Earl Strickland then appeared to play against Daryl Peach. The two traded racks until the score was 3-all, and then a long-rail bank on the 7 ball gave Strickland the advantage. A missed jump shot by Peach on the 5 ball handed Strickland the hill, and when Peach came up empty on his last break, Strickland was able to clear the table for a 6-3 win.
Crowd favorite Rodney Morris appeared for the fourth and final match, meeting another veteran, Ralf Souquet. Souquet took the first rack when Morris left him a very thin cut on the 5, but the Hawaiian scored the next three in a row after a miss by Souquet on the 2 ball, a break and run-out, and then a dry break by Souquet. Morris missed a relatively easy 4, and Souquet cleared to draw within a game, but Souquet got out of line on the 5 ball, and Morris moved up to an intimidating 4-2 lead.
Not for nothing, though, has Souquet played in eleven Mosconi Cups—he kept his cool remarkably well and didn’t give an inch. He capitalized on two failed safety attempts by “Rocket” to draw even, and then he took the hill when Morris scratched on the 4 and aligned the balls perfectly for a 4-9 combo. With the crowd screaming and Souquet expressionless, Souquet made three balls on the break in the final rack. His only shot was a 2-8-5 combo and then a 2-8 combo, both of which he made easily. He missed a long cut shot on the 3 ball but didn’t leave anything for Morris, who tried for a bank but left another long cut. This time Souquet played a crossbank into the opposite corner to immense cheers and moved into perfect position for the 6 ball uptable. Once he made the 6, he was perfect for the 9 ball, which he made to win the match 6-4. Team Europe defeated Team USA 11-8.
The last time Team Europe won the Mosconi Cup was in 2002, and before then it was 1995. This is only the third time they have won this event, and with the Mosconi Cup XV being held in England next year, they are eagerly awaiting their chance to defend their title.
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