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Longoni 9 Ball League – Spain And Poland Win Through To Final

Team Spain

The final of the inaugural Longoni 9-Ball League will be contested by Spain and Poland following their semi-final victories on Friday evening in Lasko. They were contrasting matches with Spain running out comfortable winners against Bosnia & Herzegovina, while Poland enjoyed a gritty battle against Germany that was altogether more strategic.

Opening the proceedings were the Spanish pair of David Alcaide and Francisco Sanchez Ruiz who were up against a Bosnia Herzegovina team of Sanjin Pehlivanovic and Ajdin Piknjac. Spain took an early 2-0 after a couple of BiH misses allowed them the opportunity.

The Bosnians though rode their luck to complete a run out for 2-1 and then a dry break from Alcaide gave them the chance to run all 9 balls on the table which they executed perfectly to draw level at 2-2. A couple of small but critical errors from BiH gave the table to Spain in the next two racks and they opened up a 4-2 lead.

A great break from Piknjac set up a run out and they made no mistakes to reduce arrears to 4-3. Spain though, took the next for 5-3 and that soon became 6-3, leaving Bosnia Herzegovina with it all to do. It was becoming a romp for the Spanish duo as they raced through the next rack for a 7-3 lead.

There was more woe for BiH in the next as Piknjac’s break was illegal although dry as well. Playing with a degree of telepathy, Spain cleared the table to reach the hill. With Bosnian resistance all but gone, the Spanish pair concluded an easy 9-3 win.

Commented Sanchez Ruiz, “It wasn’t easy because we know they’re good but we played so comfortably as we’ve practiced two months together. We’ve both played good this year so let’s see what happens in the final. The most important thing is that we really enjoy playing together.”

Added Alcaide, “When you feel so confident in your partner, you feel so good so you don’t worry if you miss a ball as we’ll have more chances. We’re trying to focus on our games and that’s the most important thing.”

Team Poland

The second semi-final was a different story as Poland pulled away from Germany in the closing stages following a tight encounter. Neither side really got their respective breaks going and that led to plenty of safety play and few run out opportunities.

With fruitless breaks and plenty of safety, the match found itself at 2 racks apiece before Poland then took the next with the break to take the lead for the first time. Two balls went in off the break from Filler in the next but the 2 ball was blocked and Bongers pushed out. A jump shot from Zielinski left the 2-ball on for Bongers and he made it to set up a runout for Germany for 3-3.

Nothing down on the break for Zielinski gave Germany a chance but the unluckiest of scratches on a very tight angle from Filler gave a grateful Poland ball-in-hand. They then restored their one rack lead at 4-3. Germany cleared what was a difficult table, following multiple visits to square it up at 4-4. It was becoming an absorbing match as neither team was getting much from the break and the racks were becoming increasingly tactical.

Poland took the next after some back-and-forth safety and then made it 6-4 following a safety-packed tenth rack. Another fruitless break, this time from Zielinski, got Germany back to the table and with the balls out in the open the score moved to 6-5.

Another unfortunate scratch from Filler pocketing the 1-ball, handed the table back to Poland and from there they restored their two-rack lead at 7-5. That soon became a three-rack lead as the Poles ran out from the break to put themselves within one of victory at 8-5.

Another break left a safety – this time from Filler. The Germans were patient and, in the end, got ball-in-hand as Szewczyk failed toextricate himself from an impossible snooker, and they cleared to get the match to 8-6. Just when he needed it, Zielinski delivered an excellent break, downing 2 balls and leaving an open table. There were a couple of testers along the way but the Polish pair executed them well and they cleared for a 9-6 victory.

“We were struggling with the break, both of us but from the open game we generally played quite well and Germany had two or three unlucky rolls and we took advantage of it. I’m happy that we’re in the final with Wojciech – he’s a great partner,” said Zielinski.

Szewczyk added, “I’d agree with Wiktor. It was pretty interesting – I actually like the strategic part of the game as so many racks were of this kind where we exchanged safeties and had to come up with some creative shots. In the end we managed to make three break-and-runs out of that disastrous break so it’s not really a bad score.”

Szewczyk is no guarantee for a spot in the final. Teams are made up of the two highest ranked players prior to the final and with a Euro Tour to compete in this weekend and a few other Polish players snapping at his heels, anything could happen.

Full results from the evening’s play:

Semi Final 1: SPAIN (Alcaide/Sanchez Ruiz) 9 – 3 BOSNIA HERZOGOVINA (Pehlivanovic/Piknjac)

Semi Final 2: POLAND (Szewczyk/Zielinski) 9 – 6 GERMANY (Filler/Bongers)

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Longoni 9-Ball League Semi-Final Line-Ups Set For Slovenia

The Longoni 9 Ball League reconvenes at the end of this month in Lasko in Slovenia and is now down to the semi-finals which both take place on 30th September. The event got underway in February at the same Slovenian venue and the event has featured 12 nations playing in four groups of three teams. The format is scotch doubles and the two representatives of each country have been the two highest ranked players on the Euro Tour prior to each round of matches.

With group play complete, there are four teams remaining and they compete in two semi-finals with the prize of a spot in the title match which takes place in Italy prior to the final Euro Tour event of the year. The opening match will see Spain take on Bosnia & Herzegovina in the first Longoni 9 Ball League semi-final which gets underway at 20:00 local time.

With the EuroTour rankings determining the players in each team during the course of season, the ever-reliable Spanish duo of Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz and David Alcaide have stayed at the top throughout. Ranked No.1 and No.8 respectively, they are, understandably, hot favourites for the title.

Standing in their way are Bosnia’s young talented team of Sanjin Pehlivanovic and Ajdin Piknjac who are currently ranked at No.25 and No.45. The pair have played all matches together and, in the process, have defeated two strong teams already in Greece and Norway. That means the Spaniards will need to come with their best to negotiate the tie.

With its scotch doubles format, the Longoni 9 Ball League now becomes a race to 9 for the semi-finals with alternate break and alternate breaker. The second semi-final, scheduled at 21:30 local time, features Poland against Germany.

Germany’s top ranked player, with a host of titles to his name this year including gold at the World Games, is Joshua Filler (ET ranked No.3) and he will be partnered by the improving Tobias Bongers (ET No.20) as they attempt to overcome the strong Polish pairing of Wiktor Zielinski and Wojciech Szewczyk.

Zielinski (ET No.2) and Szewczyk (No.10) have gelled perfectly over the two matches they’ve played, beating Austria and Italy in the group stage. Germany, however, have seen a change of personnel, as Filler and Thorsten Hohmann started the campaign but Bongers produced the better results on the EuroTour to take the spot and has not looked back.

Each team, having won their respective group, will now play for a place in November’s final and a shot at the first prize of 3900 Euro. Add that to the group earnings and the eventual champions will collect a cool 4500 Euro for playing four matches. The runners-up receive 2500 Euro plus group earnings and as with all the teams, the total prize money will be divided into match shares with one share for each team appearance.

Following the semi-finals, the final will take place on Friday 25th November in Treviso, Italy.
Matches can be viewed live on the free Kozoom platform, TV.kozoom as well as on the Longoni 9 Ball League & EPBF Facebook pages.

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Historic Dannish Win As Netherlands & Finland Advance At World Cup Of Pool

ROUND 1

Netherlands 7-4 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Finland 7-0 Iceland
France 2-7 Denmark

Denmark recorded their first ever World Cup of Pool victory, beating France 7-2 at Stadium MK, Milton Keynes on Monday, while there were also wins for Netherlands and Finland.

The Dutch duo of Niels Feijen and Marc Bijsterbosch used their tournament experience to overcome an impressive pairing of Sanjin Pehlivanovich and Ajdin Piknjac as Bosnia and Herzegovina made their World Cup debut. There was a debut too for Iceland, but they struggled at the table against Finish pair Petri Makkonen and Casper Matikainen, who recorded a 7-0 whitewash win.

Bosnia and Herzegovina gave a good account of themselves and had the session’s opening match level at 3-3. But Netherlands’ class and experience showed as they moved 5-3 ahead. Their opponents had a chance to pull one back when Pehlivanovich missed a 9, but Feijen cut it too thin, allowing Ajdin Piknjac to half the deficit.  However, that was the last frame they would win as Feijen and Bijsterbosch made balls when it mattered to advance to round two.

“What a relief,” said Bijsterbosch. “We waited a few days for the match so I am very happy with the result. “We have to keep moving but we are playing confidently and we grinding out the win.”

Feijen added: “These races to 7s with the brutal winner breaks and the table playing bouncy, it is hard to control the cue ball but we did really well, stuck to our guns and pulled out the win. These early rounds, I don’t think there are any favourites. In the end it could come down to experience and we have been to the semis, been to the quarters, and that can help carry you through.”

Netherlands will meet Finland tomorrow afternoon after a crushing 7-0 victory over Iceland for Petri Makkonen and Casper Matikainen. The unrelated Zophonias and Magnus Arnason struggled when they did get chances, but their table time was limited as Makkonen and debutant Matikainen closed out the first whitewash of the tournament.

“It was a good start with a good win, we didn’t do much wrong and we are feeling good,” said Makkonen.

Matikainen added: “I didn’t play too well this match but it is good to get the win. Playing Predator Championship League Pool helped me get used to the arena, it was my first time in a Matchroom event, and now I know what to expect.”

The session closed out with an impressive World Cup debut from Mickey Krause, who partnered Bahram Lotfy for Denmark. They played France (Alex Montpellier & Alain Da Costa), who were late replacements for Albania. Krause, a 20-year-old from Copenhagen, and partner Lotfy opened up a 4-0 lead before France got on the board. It was the first of only two racks for France, however, as Denmark made light work of the match and will face either Spain or Italy in the next round on Wednesday.

Round one continues on Monday evening at 5:30pm UK time with Spain vs. Italy, Germany vs. Lithuania and Poland vs. Kuwait. The World Cup of Pool is broadcast live globally including on Sky Sports, DAZN and Matchroom.Live. Full broadcast details can be found at matchroompool.com.

For all the latest news and announcements follow Matchroom Pool on FacebookTwitterYouTube and Instagram.

Kaci’s Albania Among Latest Confirmed For World Cup Of Pool

Eklent Kaci’s Albanian team are among a number of nations now confirmed for the World Cup of Pool, which will take place this May 9-14 at Stadium MK, Milton Keynes, live on Sky Sports.

Mosconi Cup winner Kaci will again be joined by Besar Spahiu after the pair defeated Russia at the 2019 World Cup before falling agonisingly short against Philippines, suffering a 7-5 defeat.

A host of European teams are now confirmed, as well as Kuwait (Omar Al-Shaheen and Bader Abdullah Alawadhi), and Australia, who will again be represented by Justin Sajich, this time partnered by Ivan Li.

Serge Das will return for Belgium alongside Kevin Lannoye, while Bosnia & Herzegovina will make their World Cup of Pool debut with Sanjin Pehlivanovic and Ajdin Piknjac. Philipp Stojanovic and Roberto Bartol will represent Croatia, while the Czech Republic pairing will be Roman Hybler and Michal Gavenciak.

Young Danish star Mickey Krause will make his debut in the Matchroom arena with Bahram Lotfy as the 20-year-old’s partner.

Estonia’s Denis Grabe and Mark Magi, who famously fell out after losing a hill-hill second round match at the last World Cup of Pool, will be hoping nothing comes between them this time around. Oliver Szolnoki and Vilmos Foldes are teaming up for Hungary and there’s a World Cup debut for Lithuania, represented by Pijus Labutis and Kęstutis Žadeikis.

The World Cup of Pool features 32 two-player teams and is played to a straight-knockout format, with a total prize fund of $250,000.

Team Austria (Albin Ouschan and Mario He) will defend their title in Milton Keynes, but competition will be tough with some of the biggest names in pool already confirmed. They include, three-times winners Philippines (Jeff De Luna and Roberto Gomez), USA (Skyler Woodward and Billy Thorpe), and Great Britain A (Jayson Shaw and Chris Melling).

The final teams will be announced shortly and the draw for the World Cup of Pool will be made soon after all teams have been confirmed. The World Cup of Pool will be broadcast live on Sky Sports, DAZN and Matchroom.Live, with further international broadcasters to be confirmed.