Japan Wins 8-7 World Cup Thriller

Naoyuki Oi and Toru Kuribayashi

THERE WAS more heartbreak and drama in Manila as matches continued at the PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool on day two. In the first match of the 3.00 session, Japan eliminated unfancied Slovenia who pushed them all the way, while Poland came from behind to cash in on some errors and book a place in the last 16.

For the Maltese pair of Tony Drago and Alex Borg, the match represented their best chance of progressing in the competition following two 7-8 defeats at the hands of the USA in previous years.

Malta took the early 3-1 lead over the Polish duo of seasoned Radoslaw Babica and youngster Mariusz Skoneczny, who was making his debut in the competition. The Maltese were always one step ahead as they got the score to 6-4 to give themselves a real chance. That's when things started to unravel.

Misses from Borg gave the Poles the chances they needed and they picked up the pace, winning four consecutive racks as Malta wilted. Poland finally ran out 8-6 winners.

“It was a very difficult victory. It was a nervous match because there was something on our minds as we were playing without our own cues which were lost on the plane,” said Babica, post-match.

“We borrowed cues from the Russians so it wasn't easy to play with that on our minds and became hard to concentrate, but we had a bit of luck at the end of the match.

“We hope we will play our next match with our own cues so we will not be as nervous,” he added.

The first match of the afternoon was an exciting affair as the fancied Japanese duo of Naoyuki Oi and Toru Kuribayashi stole past European qualifiers Slovenia 8-7.

Slovenia, represented by Euro Tour veteran Matjaz Erculj and Matej Sulek, fought every step of the way but were defeated in a tense final rack where they both had visits.

Kuribayashi, who hit the big time last May, when he reached the World Pool Masters final as a qualifier, and the flamboyant Oi have plenty of chemistry but will need to improve if they want to beat Taiwan, their likely opponents in the next round.

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.