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Bosnia, Austria, Netherlands and Estonia Score Wins at Longoni 9-Ball League

There were four more matches completed in Round Two of the Longoni 9 Ball League which took place at the BHR Treviso Hotel in Italy. The competition features 12 two-man teams divided into four groups of three. Each team plays the other team once in race-to-7 scotch doubles matches and the leading four teams at the end of league play move forward to the semi-finals.

The twist is that it is the top-two ranked players on the Euro Tour ranking prior to the round of matches who will be representing their country so it won’t necessarily be the same two players throughout the tournament.

The opening match on table one saw the Netherlands narrowly defeat Albania by the odd rack in an exciting encounter that highlighted the cut-throat nature of the format. The Dutch were represented by Niels Feijen and Marc Bijsterbosch, while Klenti Kaci and Besar Spahiu wore Albanian colours.

The Dutch pair were always in the ascendancy as they won the scrappy racks and before long found themselves in a 5-2 lead in the race-to-7 match, leaving the Albanians with a bit of a mountain to climb.

A good break from Kaci saw two balls drop and a fine pot on the 2 ball from Spahiu gave them, a chance to claw one back. They took it with some confident potting to make it 5-3. An illegal break, this time from Bijsterbosch, gave Albania another chance. It was by no means an easy table but they knuckled down to take it and reduce the arrears to a single rack.

Looking to take the next Spahiu made a fatal error, leaving the 5-ball hanging after a slow fine cut. Dutch tension eased as they took the remaining balls to gain a two-rack lead to go on the hill at 6-4.

A third illegal break of the match returned the table to the Albanians who now had to win the remaining three racks for victory. They took the rack and then the next to take the match to the hill at 6-6.

It was Bijsterbosch to break and it was a good one but left an awkward table. A loosener from Spahiu left the 4 ball for Feijen to pocket then Bijsterbosch took the 5 using the bridge. That was effectively the end as the Dutch cleared up for a hard-fought 7-6 win.

The second match of the evening featured an Italian team made up of Francesco Candela and Fabio Petroni against a strong Austrian pairing of Max Lechner and Mario He. The match was an object lesson in making the most of the break.

They shared the first four racks before Austria took a 3-2 lead. The outcome of the match hinged on a missed 9 ball from Candela in the next. It was eminently missable and Candela called for an extension only to be informed by his playing partner that they’d already taken it. Unnerved, he missed the 9 ball – the only missed ball of the entire match – and He gratefully accepted the opportunity to increase their lead to 4-2.

From there, the Italians could never reassert themselves in the match and it was the Austrian pair who ended up 7-2 winners.

Full results from the evening’s play:

Group A: BOSNIA HERZOGOVINA (Pehlivanovic/Piknjac) 7 – 6 GREECE
(Kazakis/Ekonomopoulos)

Group B: AUSTRIA (He/Lechner) 7 – 2 ITALY (Candela/Petroni)

Group C: NETHERLANDS (Feijen/Bijsterbosch) 7 – 6 ALBANIA (Kaci/Spahiu)

Group D: ESTONIA (Grabe/Gnadeberg) 7 – 3 SERBIA (Pecelj/Klasovic)

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