Defending Champions Topple Out at World Cup of Pool

Ricky Yang and Muhammad Zulfikri

THERE WAS a big upset at Robinsons Place in Manila Wednesday night, as defending champions Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante (Philippines A) departed the World Cup of Pool, beaten by the better side on the night.

For Ricky Yang and Mohammad Zulfikri of Indonesia, it was a great night as they went right into the lion's den and performed well in front of an all-Filipino crowd in excess of 2,000.

8-6 was the scoreline and although the match contained plenty of nerves and errors, it was hard to beat as sporting entertainment. The crowd were on the edge of their seats throughout, willing their heroes who could not quite deliver the goods at the critical moments.

Kudos though to Yang and Zulfikri who looked under the cosh in the early stages but weathered the storm and stay in the match and share the racks at 3-3. The turning point for Indonesia may well have been when they broke and ran the seventh to take a 4-3 lead. It gave their self-belief a massive boost and they took the next to lead 5-3 after Bustamante erred under pressure.

The Filipinos weren't finished though as they took the next two to level it as the Indonesians made mistakes. They took the next though and in the end Reyes and Bustamante played too many loose shots to hold off the Indonesians who held their collective nerve to grab the win.

“We played good at the beginning but we missed a couple of positions and we could do nothing,” said a disappointed Bustamante.

“They played good but we gave them two or three games. If we had played well it would've been easy to win 8-3 or 8-4 but we both missed and the plans changed.

“For me and Efren we are playing in our country and we have a lot of support but there's a lot of pressure. It's difficult enough and there's a lot of pressure and as it's only a race to eight anybody can win.

“They are good players but we would expect to beat them easily but as I said we missed a couple of balls. Dennis and Roberto have a chance to win and I hope they do as they're the only Filipinos left.”

Earlier Taiwan, perennial World Cup of Pool under-achievers, looked a real threat as they hammered Japan to become the first side through to the quarter-finals at the weekend.

Jung-Lin Chang and Pin-Yi Ko are seasoned at the highest level and delivered the type of relaxed performance that will put fear into the other team's hearts. The Japanese team of Naoyuki Oi and Toru Kuribayashi are quality players themselves but had no answer to the Taiwanese firepower. It was a storming performance and they won the opening rack within 90 seconds courtesy of a 3/9 combo. Japan stayed with them in the early stages and trailed 3-2 at one stage.

It was one-way after that as the Taiwanese lads laughed and smiled their way around the table in stark contrast to some of their stone-faced predecessors. It was like an exhibition at times and this deadly duo now face either USA or Poland in the quarters.

“We enjoyed it today, and felt very comfortable at the table” said Chang, after the match.

“We will just take each match as it comes and try our very best. Ko is a great young player and we are looking forward to the next match on Saturday,” he added.

With 32 teams representing 31 countries – home nation Philippines has two sides in the competition – the World Cup of Pool sees the gathering of some of the most decorated stars of the pool firmament. The event is taking place at Robinsons Place, in Ermita, Manila.

With a total purse of $250,000, the winning pair split $60,000 between them while first round losers are guaranteed $1,500 each. All the action will be carried live on Solar Sports in The Philippines and other broadcasters across the region.


Second Round Scores

Taiwan 8-2 Japan
Indonesia 8-6 Philippines A


First Round Scores

Russia 8–4 Canada
Indonesia 8-7 India
China 8–2 Belgium
Italy 8-6 Korea
Germany 8–4 Hong Kong
Philippines A 8-3 Thailand
England 8–7 Qatar
France 8-5 Australia
Japan 8–7 Slovenia
Poland 8-6 Malta
Taiwan 8–2 Malaysia
Philippines B 8-4 Croatia
Holland 8–3 Austria
Finland 8-2 Singapore
USA 8-7 Sweden
Spain 8-5 Vietnam