Defending Champs USA Given Scare
Plucky Malta Falter at Final Hurdle
TEAM USA, who 12 months ago held the World Cup of Pool aloft in Rotterdam, Holland, edged their way into the last 16 of this year’s tournament following a heart-stopping victory over Malta at the SM Mall North Annex in Manila.
These two nations met at the 2007 World Cup and just like then, the Americans squeezed through by a single rack as the Maltese pairing of Tony Drago and Alex Borg fought them every step of the way and even found themselves breaking for the match.
Instead it was Rodney Morris and Shane Van Boening who clinched victory as Borg’s dry break allowed them to run out for the win.
There was nothing to separate them at 4-4 as the experienced pool player Drago coached his less seasoned team mate through some trickier moments. A break and run in the next followed by a fluked carom on the 9 saw the USA move into a 6-4 lead and when a missed bank shot in the next by Drago left the table on for the Americans, they moved comfortably to the hill.
Some sloppy play from the USA though gave chances to Malta and they steamed through the next two to go 6-7 and when they took the next there was excitement in the arena as a massive upset looked on the cards.
It wasn’t to be though as a dry break sealed Maltese fate in a thrilling encounter. America now face Indonesia in the last 16.
“We’re just pleased to have won. I was in the team two years ago so I know what Tony and Alex can do. Hopefully things can get easier for us,” said a relieved Morris after the match.
In the final match of the day, home town heroes Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante, winners of the inaugural World Cup of Pool in Newport, Wales in 2006, made light work of Middle East hopes Qatar by 8-3 to advance to the next round.
Worshipped by a pool-loving nation, the dynamic duo may not be the youngest kids on the block in these parts but they still possess all the skill as well as plenty of experience to make them great contenders for this title.
The Qataris by contrast were a little overawed in front of a big crowd and live on TV, and they gifted their opponents plenty of chances. Trailing 7-1 after having won the opener, the boys from Qatar, Bashar Hussain and Mohammed Ali Bin Ali, showed some good play at the close of the match as they won two racks to gain some respectability.
“My partner played great he knows exactly what to do in every situation. At the beginning we were a bit scared but that’s what you have to do and we went out and did it,” said Bustamante.
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