United States Hanging On

Mika Immonen was one bright spot for Team Europe

TEAM USA need just two more points to lift the PartyPoker.net Mosconi Cup as they held off a comebacking European team at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas to lead by four points going into Sunday.
In dire straits at the outset, the Europeans won the first two matches to give their opponents the jitters, before Dennis Hatch stopped their momentum and then Johnny Archer and Corey Deuel increased the lead further.
Trailing 2-7 going into the third day, Europe found themselves in a position of having to win everything and the word behind the scenes was that they had a whole new approach after the disasters of the opening two days, and were brimming with confidence.
That manifested itself in the first match of the session as a focused Niels Feijen and Thorsten Hohmann looked a picture of determination as they took care of Hatch and Deuel by a 6-1 score line.
"We aren't going out without a fight. The Americans have shown some heart and played very well but we've had some bad rolls and that's why we were 7-2 down,” said Hohmann.
"But it's not over and we're a strong team and I think we can do it.
"As you look at each individual in our team we're all world champions but the US are probably the strongest team they've had. Maybe on paper we were the favourites but I knew America would be strong."
The score soon became 7-4 to the USA as Mika Immonen held his nerve alongside Ralf Souquet to defeat Shane Van Boening and Oscar Dominguez by 6-4.
Immonen, who looked out of sorts over the first two days, admitted that he was a little jet lagged, but his partner kept on him throughout and they were too strong for their opponents.

Immonen checked himself as he played the final 8 ball and his relief was palpable as he made it and left an easy 9 ball for Souquet.
"I haven't played great as I've been struggling with flu and jet lag so I'm trying to get it back but I'm still not 100 per cent,” said a relieved Immonen to Sky Sports Andy Goldstein.
"When I'm nervous I feel extra nervous and with that last 8-ball I was just trying to hold it together and I didn't hit it that well.
"I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest. In practise I make it 1,000 times out of 1,000 but this is the Mosconi Cup.
"Now we've got some momentum and we're feeling stronger. We changed our strategy a bit trying to get the crowd more pumped up and we're getting more pumped up.
If the PartyPoker.net Mosconi Cup is all about momentum, then Dennis Hatch proved he was a big man for a big job as he derailed the European train, winning 6-4 against Niels Feijen.
A focused and intense Feijen tore into an early 4-2 lead as Hatch looked a little uncomfortable in what was a potentially overwhelming atmosphere.
However, a positive Hatch capitalised on some Feijen errors and slowly the tide turned. The crowd could sense it and Hatch fed off their enthusiasm as they carried him over the line for a memorable comeback victory.
"He could've had me 5-1 and shooting the 9-ball and I would still think I had a chance - I never give up” said a red-eyed Hatch.
"If it wasn't for the crowd then this wouldn't be the same thing but they're on your back and you're on theirs so we carry each other.
"But I said to Johnny (Archer) that I would put us on the board and he said 'you're the man' so I had a ton of confidence.
"When he (Feijen) was shooting the 5-ball his hand was shaking and his whole arm was shaking and trembling so I figured he may dog it.
"I'm loving this; this is the best experience of my life, win or lose, and I can't say enough about this - I love it."
There was another big win in the next for the USA as Johnny Archer did a superb job as he put in another awesome performance and also coached his partner Corey Deuel through some tricky hairpins.
The Europeans gave it a go but Appleton is not enjoying the best Mosconi Cup debut and he made too many mistakes, giving the USA every opportunity.
Still, the match made it to hill hill before Archer pulled one out the bag to pot the 1 ball and from there a confident Archer and nervous Deuel negotiated the table to win the match and take the USA to 9-4.
The final match of the day saw Mika Immonen battle his fatigue to record a life-saving victory for Europe as he beat Oscar Dominguez 6-4 to leave Europe four points behind going into the last day.
It was an entertaining encounter which both players contributed to, but it was Immonen in the end who had too much for the plucky Dominguez.
"We needed this one just to keep a bit of a margin. Finally I was able to find my own pace and I had been a little bit weak earlier. We're just closing the gap and putting a little bit more pressure on them,” said Immonen.
The Scores
Feijen/Hohmann 6 – 1 Hatch/Deuel
Souquet/Immonen 6 – 4 Van Boening/Dominguez
Niels Feijen 4 – 6 Dennis Hatch
Hohmann/Appleton 5 – 6 Archer/Deuel
Mika Immonen 6 – 4 Oscar Dominguez
Live in its entirety on Sky Sports in the UK, the PartyPoker.net Mosconi Cup features two five-man teams representing Europe and the USA doing battle in a series of singles and doubles matches. Now in its 16th year, the Americans hold a 10-4 lead with one tied match in 2006.