Immonen Wins Epic Battle With Souquet

Mika Immonen

2001 World Pool Champion Mika “The Iceman” Immonen of Finland who has made Manila his second home, scored a nerve-wracking 13-12 victory over Ralf “The Kaiser” Souquet of Germany to win the top prize of $15,000 in the Philippine-Europe 9-Ball tournament held at the ABS-CBN studios in Quezon City.

The all-European final may have been a heartbreaker for Filipino fans who expected hometown hero Efren Bata” Reyes who beat Immonen in the first round to qualify for the finals. A poor break compounded by below- par shot making cost him a finals berth when Reyes lost to Souquet in the cross-over semi finals after Warren Kiamco was routed by Immonen, but the quality of the nip-and-tuck race-to-thirteen finals more than compensated for the disappointment.

Reyes salvaged some measure of pride by repeating his lopsided victory over Kiamco in the recent San Miguel Asian 9-Ball finals by demonstrating his mastery with an 11-5 win to clinch third place.

Reyes showed solid control of the cue ball and pounced on the slightest miscue by Kiamco and demonstrated his elegant, soft cushion shots that were sadly absent in his semi final battle with Souquet, last year's International Billiards Congress “Player of the Year.”

While Reyes dazzled fans with some magical shots especially on the fifteenth rack when he stroked the green 6 which was partly covered, saw it hit the corner rail and roll down table and into the other corner pocket. He also nudged the No.7 with a soft cushion shot that put him on the hill and when Kiamco missed the 8-ball on the 16th rack, Reyes settled the issue handily.

Immonen and Souquet played a game of thrust and parry after the German ace won the lag and when the score was tied at 12-12 in the see-saw battle Immonen told Manila Standard “I was 90 percent sure he was going to run out after the break. But God favored me this time because I have been losing in so many sudden death situations.”

Immonen said the victory was ”unbelievable” coming as it does after his previous victory in Manila when he beat Reyes in the finals of the LG Collins Challenge of the Masters before some 4,000 fans at the Casino Filipino amphitheater in Paranaque.

Immonen said “I'm playing pretty good with a solid break and running out racks and feel confident going into the world championship in Cardiff. It's the same kind of confidence when I won in 2001. The tournament was a nice little run-up to Cardiff and Manila is good to me while the Filipinos treat me nice” said the 30 year old bachelor who owns a bar “Flava” along Pasong Tamo in the plush financial district of Makati.

Photo courtesy of Matchroom Sport