Mosconi Cup Poised to Begin

Mosconi Cup Poised to Begin
Mosconi Cup / Malta

by Cristina De La Garza, InsidePOOL Staff

2007 Mosconi Cup MVP Drago is set to help the European billiards team defend their title.

2007 Mosconi Cup MVP Drago is set to help the European billiards team defend their title.

The 2008 PartyPoker.com Mosconi Cup, presented by Matchroom Sport and Sky Sports, is set to kick off in the beautiful country of Malta. Team Europe boasts a superstar roster that includes two reigning world champions: 2008 World 8-Ball champion Ralph Souquet and 2008 World Straight Pool champion Niels Feijen.  The 2007 Mosconi Cup Most Valuable Player, Tony “The Tornado” Drago, will return to the team this year after winning four of five matches in the 2007 event. The Malta native also captured the Matchroom Sports World Pool Masters title earlier this year.  Top-ranked player on the competitive Euro Tour, Mark Gray will make his Mosconi Cup debut.  And perhaps the most feared player on Team Europe is Mika “Iceman” Immonen, who seems to be on a roll lately as he was recently crowned the U.S. Open 9-Ball champion and the All-Japan champion. 

Although Team USA leads the title history 11-3, Team Europe came from behind in Las Vegas in 2007 to steal the title from the U.S. for the first time in 5 years. In order to defend their title, Team Europe will have to take down a tough U.S. team equally strong in talent and experience.  For the second year in a row, every member of Team USA is a former U.S. Open Champion.  U.S fans have criticized the lack of team chemistry that was demonstrated at the 2007 event, but this year’s team has already proven to have great success together.  Earlier this year, Shane Van Boening and Rodney Morris formed a great partnership when they won the 2008 World Cup of Pool.  WPA World Pool champion Earl Strickland and 1990’s Player of the Decade Johnny Archer have toured the Southwest together for several months this year for their Legends and Champions Tour.   Also returning to the team is Mosconi Cup veteran and Generationpool.com 9-Ball champion Jeremy Jones.

Day one will begin with a five-on-five team match with each team playing in a scotch format, alternating players on each shot.  The remainder of the matches will be a doubles match, followed by a singles match and concluding with a doubles match.  This year the players will play under added pressure with a 30-second shot clock, as opposed to the 45-second clock used in previous years.  Other specifics of the tournament format include races 5 and alternating breaks in all matches, 9 ball racked on the spot, and three balls must past the headstring or be pocketed on each break.

On Wednesday, players were welcomed by the tournament staff and sponsors with a brief press conference, promotional tapings and a reception held at the tournament venue residing on the north shore of the island, the Hilton Hotel in Malta.  Non-playing team captains Nick Varner and Alex Lely addressed their teams and opponents with colorful speeches and promises of a competitive tournament.   

For more information about the 2008 PartyPoker.com Mosconi Cup, please visit www.mosconicup.com.

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