Philippines Put Thailand Lights Out at World Cup of Pool

Ralf Souquet and Oliver Ortmann celebrate their first round win

BUOYED on by a massive crowd at Robinsons Place Mall in Manila, defending World Cup of Pool champions, Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante overcame a false start and a 15 minute power cut to extinguish Thai hopes and move into the next round where they will face Indonesia.

Expectations were high from the immense crowd inside the venue, estimated at over 2,000, and the atmosphere was incredible.

Bustamante broke off and made an illegal break but before the rack could be completed the power in the arena went and the players were forced to sit in their chair for a quarter of an hour while it was restored.

The Thais cleared the table and broke and ran the next to silence the crowd. The Filipino duo looked slightly apprehensive under the huge pressure of the crowd, but they took the next two racks to ease the pain.

The reigning champs then settled into it and took the next three racks to put the pressure firmly back on the Thais. Nerves crept in as the home team took the next to send the crowd wild.

Another illegal break from the Philippines in the next gave the Thais the rack but that was their last contribution to the match as the champions took the next three racks to make it through to the next round and set up an all-South East Asia clash with Indonesia.

"It was very difficult as they had us 2-0 in a race to eight. We thought it was alternate break but it was winners' break and we didn't know that!' said Bustamante.

"My partner played great and without Efren we wouldn't have won the match. My break wasn't good and this was a surprise as Efren always wants me to break every time but I never made a ball on the break.

"We always try whoever we play but everyone here is a good player. I've played the Indonesian players in tournaments but never in doubles. If my partner plays like that again then we will win,” he added.

DESPITE having the reputation of not being the best of friends, the German axis of Ralf Souquet and Oliver Ortmann looked comfortable enough in each other's company as they overcame the early hiccup to defeat Hong Kong 8-4 in the opening round of the World Cup of Pool.

The Hong Kong pair of Kenny Kwok and Lee Chenman was beaten 8-0 in the corresponding fixture at last year's event so knew they had nothing to lose. However, at 2-0 down the Chinese duo must have had that sinking feeling.

However, two racks later they were all square and when Ortmann missed jacking up on the 2 ball, Hong Kong found themselves in the lead for the first time. That moved to 4-2 when the German ended up in an unlucky snooker and failed to escape to hand their opponents ball in hand.

That though, was to be Hong Kong's last hurrah. A dry break started the rot in rack seven and then a scratch in the next levelled things up. Not looking their best, the Germans still had too much for their opponents as they negotiated the final racks for an 8-4 win.

"It was a game of two halves; we had a good run in the first half but I had a dry break when we were 4-2 up and that was the turning point,' said a disappointed Chenman.

"Everything they did wrong, which wasn't much, they got away with. It was a tough draw and they're one of the favourites to win.

"Last year we played them and lost and they got to the final and should've won it. I'm sure they will go far again this year."

Germany now faces Russia in the last 16.

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.