Philippines hold off battling Chile

Lee Vann Corteza and Dennis Orcollo
Russia 7 – 6 Japan 
Finland 7 – 0 Korea
Philippines 7 – 5 Chile
DEFENDING CHAMPIONS the Philippines got their 2014 Betway World Cup of Pool campaign underway successfully as they edged past a gutsy Chile side that had started out as huge underdogs but almost managed to silence a big Filipino contingent at the Mountbatten Centre in Portsmouth.
7-5 was the final score but there was plenty of heart shown by the South American side consisting of Alejandro Carvajal and Enrique Rojas. The pair had endured a tortuous journey that had taken them from Santiago to Sao Paolo, across to Paris and then onto London and then Portsmouth. It didn’t help that there was a lengthy delay in Brazil factored into the itinerary and at the end of that trek were reigning champs Dennis Orcollo and Lee Vann Corteza
They stayed with their more illustrious opponents in the early stages and the Chilean pair took the fifth rack and they completed it with a fluked 9 ball. Carvajal though, immediately lost momentum as he followed the 1 ball into the side pocket with the white to give ball in hand to the Philippines. That took the score to 4-2 and the Filipinos took the next to give themselves some breathing space.
However, the game South Americans were not finished as they recovered to take the next and then a break and run took the score to 4-5 to the Asian pair.
They both had visits in the tenth game and it was the Philippines who took it, but they lost the table in the next as Chile completed a nervy run out to stay in the match. However, a cruel kick on the cue ball from the blue 2 on Rojas’ break shot ended South American hopes as Orcollo and Corteza ran out to take the match.
“Race to seven is very short and we struggled in the beginning. We didn’t get nice breaks and had two scratches and a dry break,” said Orcollo.
“It feels like playing at home because of the support from the Filipino community here in England. This event is very special for us and we really wanted to come through the first round,” he added.
The strongest showing of the day came from 2012 champions Finland who once again look a force to be reckoned with as they pasted Korea 7-0 to take their place in the second round.
The pairing of recent Hall of Fame inductee Mika Immonen and his junior partner Petri Makkonen looked slick throughout as they walked through the South Korean duo of seasoned vet Jeong Young Hwa and Ha Minuk.
Commented Immonen, “We were a little bit fortunate where we had a couple of dry breaks but they didn’t have a shot, but we are happy with how we played and very happy to get through the first round.
“We had a long undefeated run; we won the event in 2012 and went to the semi-finals last year. We are confident, we just need to figure out the breaks but there is nothing in our games to fix.
“Petri and I go back a long way and he comes with some class shots and I am confident and very happy he is playing well.”
The opening match of the session was an error strewn affair as Russia got the better of Japan in a hill-hill decider. It was Ruslan Chinakhov who carried it for the Russian pair as he bailed out his partner Konstantin Stepanov at times.
The Japanese duo of Hayato Hijikata & Masaaki Tanaka will be disappointed in their performance as they failed to put away sufficient chances to take the match. The Russians can look forward to either Croatia or the USA in the next round.
Three more first round matches complete tomorrow afternoon as Poland face Australia,
China takes on the Czech Republic and Chinese Taipei play Qatar.
Now in its ninth year, the Betway World Cup of Pool features 32 two-player teams from around the world battling it out for a $250,000 prize fund. The defending champions are the Philippines who will be among the favourites to claim a record-breaking fourth World Cup.