Philippines Home by a Hair’s Breadth
Defending champions Team USA became the first side through to the quarter-finals of the 2009 PartyCasino.net World Cup of Pool at the SM Mall North Annex in Manila, as the pairing of Rodney Morris and Shane Van Boening held off a plucky Indonesian team 8-5.
The Americans always held the upper hand but Indonesia, made up of the smiling and laughing Muhammad Simanjuntuak and the more straight faced Muhammad Zulfikri, gave it a good go
The defending champs got off to a great start as they won the lag and raced into a 3-0 lead, with Morris and Van Boening looking very comfortable in each other’s company at the table.
The Indonesians, who looked a decent outfit in disposing of India in the first round, got their first rack in the bank as Morris missed a 6 ball and that made it 3-1.
A Morris foul gives the Indonesians ball in hand in the fifth game and they took full advantage to make it 3-2 to the Americans. They shared the next two to move the score along to 4-3.
A foul by Simanjuntuak in the next gave USA ball-in-hand and they used it well as they moved two ahead, closing in on their victory target of eight. Indonesia had a chance in the ninth but Zulfikri’s jump shot on the 5-ball meant America regained possession again. They inched closer to the finish line to lead 6-3.
Things went awry for America right at the start of the tenth as Morris watched his cue ball run into the side pocket. With ball-in-hand, Indonesia forced the Americans to sit and watch as the scoreline ticked over to 6-4. Simanjuntuak missed a thin cut on the green 6 which allowed the USA to move to the hill 7-4.
A Morris scratch in the next allowed Indonesia to pinch one back but a dry break in what was to be the last rack of the match proved to be the undoing of the game Asians. America now face Finland or China in the quarter finals.
“I’m dogging it at the moment right now as I’m not spending enough time at the table so I need to practise more. I would rather not play against Mika Immonen in the next round because he is a good friend but China are solid guys,” said Morris.
“Whatever comes out of the bracket will be very tough but we will be ready for them. Mika has his eyes on the final in every tournament he plays in so it will be interesting if we play Finland.”
A NATION AWAITS and it was the turn of legends Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante to feel the force of expectation as they lined up for their round two showdown with Team Italy (Fabio Petroni and Bruno Muratore).
With upwards of 600 people hanging from the rafters to catch a view of their idols, the atmosphere was electric as both sets of players were introduced into the arena.
They were not disappointed as the home boys won 8-5 in a match that swung on a call by referee Cielo Lopez in the 11th rack. The Italians were looking good to comeback at 6-4 down but the ref called a foul on Muratore, claiming the hair on his arm touched the 6 ball.
It helped the Philippines regain the momentum and they went on to close out the win.
Undeterred by the crowd, the Italians looked happy to be there and the teams shared the opening two racks before Bustamante made up for a Reyes positional error as he banked the 9 ball to fire Philippines B into the lead.
It was tense and they shared the next two to shift the score to 3-2 to the Philippines. Muratore had a great chance to level it in the next but miscued on the 8 ball and instead of 3-3, the Philippines moved into a two rack lead.
An unintended snooker was the slice of fortune that determined the outcome of the next and it was the home team that enjoyed it to move to 5-2. A dry break from the Philippines gave Italy the chance they were looking for and Muratore deposited the 9 ball but Efren and Django regained the three rack lead as they cashed in on a poor Petroni safety.
Dry break in the next allowed Italy to make a great run out including a decent pot on the 2 ball which freed up the 3 which was stuck to the 7. That put the score at 6-4.
There was controversy in the next when referee Cielo Lopez called a foul on Muratore, adjudging his arm to have lightly touched the 6 ball when cueing. The Italian didn’t like it at all but with ball in hand the Philippines moved to the hill at 7-4. TV replays were inconclusive but the referee stuck to her guns.
Italy got back into the match in the next rack and sealed it to go 7-5. But the controversy wasn’t finished as Muratore spoke to head referee Michaela Tabb during the break between racks.
The incident clearly played on Muratore’s mind and he scratched in the next rack. That is the last time Italy had a shot in the competition as the Philippines won the rack to win the match and move into the quarter-finals.
“Hopefully it doesn’t matter who we play next but me and Efren have lots of pressure everytime we miss a ball or make a mistake,” said Bustamante.
Complete Results To Date
Philippines 8 – 5 Italy
USA 8 – 5 Indonesia
Holland 8 – 3 Vietnam
Russia 8 – 3 Denmark
Poland 8 – 0 Belgium
Chinese Taipei 8 – 6 Singapore
Philippines A 8 – 5 Thailand
England 8 – 4 Malaysia
Germany 8 – 0 Hong Kong
Japan 8 – 6 Croatia
Italy 8 – 5 Austria
Finland 8 – 3 Sweden
Philippines B 8 – 3 Qatar
USA 8 – 7 Malta
Indonesia 8 – 3 India
Spain 8 – 3 Australia
China 8 – 5 Korea
France 8 – 1 Canada
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