Philippines March On To World Cup Quarters

Dennis Orcollo

Team Philippines B, consisting of Dennis ‘Robocop' Orcollo and Roberto ‘Superman' Gomez can safely assume the mantle of the ‘A' Team after despatching a dangerous Spanish team to advance to the last eight of the 2010 World Cup of Pool.

With all matches taking place in a 400 seat arena in Robinsons Place Mall in Manila, the place was packed with an estimated 2,000 spectators watching from all vantage points. With the defending champions – Reyes and Bustamante – having departed the competition yesterday at the hands of Indonesia, the nation's hopes rested on Orcollo and Gomez and they didn't disappoint.

The Spanish pair of David Alcaide and Francisco Sanchez Ruiz was reckoned to have half a chance of an upset and they took the early 2-1 lead. The Philippines, though, won the next six racks on the spin as the Spanish lads were forced to watch proceedings from their seats.

The last one is always the hardest as they say – witness Poland and the USA earlier in the evening – and Spain fought hard to stay in the match when they had their chance.

They won the 10th and 11th racks but in the end the task was too much and Gomez dropped the final 9 ball to send the massive crowd singing into the Manila night.

"I told Gomez to not be afraid as in this tournament you can get very nervous. It's a battle of nerves out there and you have more than 2,000 people watching you and cheering for you but you get energy from them and that helps you win the match," said Orcollo.

"Our celebrations were a way of keeping our nerves away. We are under pressure so we had to do something; we feel more pressure now because the crowds depend on us because of the other Filipino players already gone from the tournament,” Gomez added.

In the earlier match of the evening, there was a superb performance from underdogs Poland as the beat the heavyweights of the USA in a last frame decider. Radoslaw Babica and Mariusz Skoneczny were the heroes as they blew a 7-4 lead against a come backing USA but got the better of Rodney Morris and Johnny Archer in a magnificent final rack.

The Polish pair showed no nerves as they moved into an early 2-0 lead. Babica is a seasoned ten year veteran of world competition while his younger compatriot Skoneczny was a late called up to the side following Mariusz Sniegocki's withdrawal due to a ban.

The USA though, got the score back to 3-3 before they shared the next two for a 4-4 scoreline. However, a combination of loose play from the Americans and some solid stuff from the Poles saw the score move to an unthinkable 7-4 for the Eastern Europeans.

Morris and Archer, with nothing to lose, started to pull the racks back and before long, it was hill-hill. The last rack was epic as both sides had chances to win and there were plenty of mistakes and misses but in the end Archer had to hit the ball hard to escape a safety and the remaining balls fell nicely for the Poles who held their nerve to win.

"That's not our biggest win as last year we also played in the quarter-finals and on the way we beat Taiwan, who we play in the quarter-finals next” said an excited Babica.

"I've seen Taiwan's matches and they're really strong and I think they're much better than they were last year because they have a very good break and are playing with no pressure.

"The beginning of the match was ok but when we got to the hill we were a bit nervous. We made two mistakes and at the end we got lucky as they missed the ball and we won the rack," 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.

Quarter Final Matches Saturday from 2.00pm

Indonesia v China
Germany v France
Philippines B v Finland
Taiwan v Poland

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
Poland 8-7 USA
Philippines B 8-4 Spain

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