Europeans turn the screw to leave USA in Mosconi Cup doldrums

THERE WAS more joy for Team Europe as the Saturday afternoon session played out at the 2006 Mosconi Cup at the Cruise Terminal, Rotterdam. They claimed two out of the three doubles matches to increase their lead to four points and leave the Americans facing an uphill struggle if they are to retain their Mosconi Cup title.

Both captains changed their pairings around from Friday but it was Euro coach Johan Ruijsink who reaped the dividends as his charges delivered the goods to leave their opponents reeling and under severe pressure.

Things started bad for Europe though as the pairing of Nick van den Berg and Imran Majid failed to match their showing yesterday. They went down 6-3 to an assured looking Corey Deuel and Mike Davis to give the USA just the start they were looking for.

Mika Immonen David Alcaide kept the pressure up though in the next and they beat the increasingly fragile looking pairing of Rodney Morris and Earl Strickland.

Previously all-conquering as a duo, The Americans were never at the races as Immonen and Alcaide kept on top of them throughout.

That win restored the European lead to three points and that was upped to four in the final match as the German pairing of Souquet and Engert, playing together for the first time, made light work of the two Johns, Archer and Schmidt.

Engert who looked a little shaky yesterday, fed off Souquet and they looked flawless in victory.

There are three singles matches tonight and Team America will have to win the session to keep their Mosconi Cup dreams alive.

Match Reports

Van den Berg / Majid 3 - 6 Deuel / Davis

TEAM America secured their first victory in five matches as Corey Deuel and Mike Davis recorded a fine 6-3 doubles success against Nick van den Berg and Imran Majid. It closes the overall gap to 6-4 in Europe's favour.

“Nick and Imran played pretty good but we got the breaks and there were a couple of key shots in the match," said Deuel.

“We had a bad day yesterday so we needed to come out with a win and hopefully we can continue."

Davis added: “The fans here are good but there's a lot of pressure. Johnny Archer warned me about it but it's a good feeling to play here.”

USA, who badly needed to win this encounter, claimed the opening lag but made the first mistake as Mike Davis missed a shot at the red 3. However, it did not prove costly as a foul from Nick van den Berg gave the Americans ball in hand and they promptly made it score 1-0.

Imran Majid broke in the second rack and sunk the brown five but Europe could not win the rack in one visit as they lost position. But a missed kick-shot from Corey Deuel left the 1-ball on and that set up Europe to level the encounter at 1-1.

America ran through the third before the Europeans were forced to push out in the fourth. The hosts were soon back at the table and a fine effort by van den Berg to sink the 1-ball and a later excellent shot from Majid that saw the 6-ball roll along the rail and into the pocket helped it become 2-2.

Once again USA ran through a rack to edge back in front. Europe were given an opportunity to bring it back to 3-3 after Davis scratched when he jumped over the 9-ball and pocketed the 2-ball but then saw the cue ball also disappear off the table.

But the Europeans ran out of position and America made it 4-2. They then reached the hill with a 6-9 combination from Deuel after Majid had left the blue 2 hanging over the bottom left pocket.

Europe kept the match alive as they ran out the next as the score went to 3-5 but America would have then been hoping to seal the match as they broke in the ninth rack.

As expected, they clinched the victory as Davis, who had earlier produced an excellent shot to bank the 2-ball earlier in the rack, sunk the decisive 9-ball.

Immonen / Alcaide 6 - 4 Morris / Strickland

DAVID Alcaide and Mika Immonen they recorded a fantastic 6-4 doubles victory against Rodney Morris and Earl Strickland, as the USA pair suffered their second defeat in two days.

An early error gave Europe ball in hand and Immonen held his nerve to pot a difficult looking 9-ball into the right centre pocket for a 1-0 lead. They doubled their advantage shortly afterwards thanks to an 8-9 combination from David Alcaide.

Europe broke in the third and Alcaide sunk both the 1 and 4 balls and with a shot on the 2-ball they were in prime position to move into an impressive 3-0 lead, which Immonen did by potting the 9-ball.

America needed to begin a fight back quickly and they won the fourth as Morris potted the 9-ball. However, they fell three racks behind as Europe clinched the fifth for a 4-1 lead, and although Morris and Strickland did win the next they still trailed 4-2.

Before this year, Morris and Strickland had been a formidable pairing in the Mosconi Cup doubles matches and had won each of their six matches.

However, 2006 has been a different story as they slumped to a shock 6-5 defeat against Nick van den Berg and Imran Majid on Friday afternoon. It looked like becoming two losses in successive days as Alcaide potted the 9-ball to move Europe to the hill at 5-2 ahead.

A fine shot from Strickland to cut the nine in from a tight angle ensured another rack would be played but Europe had a glorious chance as Immonen would break in the next.

But a missed bank on the blue 2 from Alcaide gave USA another chance, which they took to make it 5-4.

There was to be more drama in the next rack as Strickland drew back too far off the break and scratched into the right centre pocket, to the delight of the partisan Dutch crowd.

Strickland, not for the first time this tournament, then slammed his cue down on the table and became involved in a shouting argument with members of the crowd. The Pearl would not have to play another shot this match as Immonen finished off the encounter for a Europe triumph.

Souquet / Engert 6 - 1 Archer / Schmidt

GERMAN duo Ralf Souquet and Thomas Engert recorded a memorable 6-1 victory to give Europe a four-point lead to close out the session. d.

The Europeans made a bright start as Engert twice disposed of the 9-ball to put his team 2-0 up. Europe had been fortunate to win the second rack as American debutant John Schmidt missed a shot at the 9-ball that would have made it 1-1.

From then on USA looked a side short of confidence as both Archer and Schmidt made a number of mistakes and struggled for any form.

Souquet made it 3-0 and then increased the advantage to four to stun the Americans and delight the home crowd.

In the fifth rack Engert started another European spell at the table as the 1-ball deflected off the black 8 and with the balls well placed it became 5-0 and took Europe to the hill.

No match in this year's Mosconi Cup had ended in a whitewash thrashing but that prospect was now on the cards as Archer and Schmidt seemed to be playing just to salvage a bit of pride.

They avoided a 6-0 defeat by claiming the next but the match was slipping away from them as the European break in the seventh saw three balls go down, although no shot on the two looked to have given America another chance.

But an excellent bank shot on the two from Souquet and a later excellent shot to sink the four in the bottom right corner from Engert set up a fantastic victory.