Ominous Chinese into World Cup Last Eight

Jian Bo Fu and He Wen Li

CHINA AND FINLAND, who contested that epic 2007 World Cup of Pool final in Rotterdam, are both through the quarter-finals of this year's competition in Manila following a couple of great performances on Friday afternoon at Robinsons Place Mall.

Represented by Jianbo Fu and Hewen Li, the Chinese overcame Italy's Fabio Petroni and Bruno Muratore by 8-5. The crowd were itching to see some quality pool after the miserable France v England game earlier and they weren't disappointed.

China was always in the ascendancy as they lead throughout with Fu's outstanding shot-making supported by Li's solid dependable style. Italy got the score to 3-2 but China reeled off the next three to take a 6-2 lead.

Italy though is always an entertaining side to watch and they dug in to take the next two racks and stay in the match. China though had too much and they clinched the necessary two games to set up a quarter-final clash against Indonesia, a match they must fancy.

Finland was up against Holland in what may have been a 50/50 encounter on paper. However, pool is played on a table and the duo of Mika Immonen and Markus Juva tore the heart out of the Dutch.

Winning the lag, Finland broke and ran the first three games to put the Dutch on their back feet and they never recovered. Holland, Niels Feijen and Huidji See, got to the table in the fourth game but could make no impact.

The Finns were looking ice cool with Immonen justifying his billing as the No.1 player in the world. They carried on winning the racks with the sole Dutch contribution coming in the eighth rack. Finland will now face Philippines B or Spain in tomorrow's quarter-finals.

"In our World Cup history that is one of our best ever performances and it feels especially sweet with it coming against a Dutch team who are well respected,” said a delighted Immonen.

"We were a bit lucky in the first rack but we never looked back after that. They got one rack on the scoreboard but we were tuned in and had a good time.

"My mentality was to go out and to not show too much respect. We go out to crush the teams but at the same time we respect them. We both stepped up and played some good shots.

"We're doing something right so we just have to do what we're doing. At 6-0 we just wanted to close them out 8-0 and we didn't want to get a false sense of security.

"The opponents are getting tougher and tougher but we're happy to get rid of that run where we played great in the first round and then lost. “With the England and Philippines A out it does raise our hopes even more and it's always easier without them in the way,” 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
Germany 8-1 Russia
France 8-6 England
China 8-5 Italy
Finland 8-1 Holland

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