Van den Berg and Morris Mosconi Thoughts

Nick Van Den Berg

Nick van den Berg (EUROPE)
"The Mosconi Cup is the best tournament of the year. Matchroom shows in this event how pool has to be presented to the audience. For that reason alone it is already great to play in this event.
Here are some anecdotes of every year I played:
2002 - London. Only number 1 and 2 on the European ranking were sure to be picked. I finished first and had secured my place on the team. In a tournament in Finland, right before the Mosconi Cup, I played a match and I was so nervous that I couldn't make a ball. In that match, I took a time out and called my dad and started crying as I thought that I would fail big time at the Mosconi Cup. But on arriving at the players meeting in London, the legendary Steve Davis immediately made me feel comfortable and told me that everybody misses balls now and again and you don't have to be ashamed of that. All of a sudden, it made sense to me.
That year, we won when Steve made the winning 9 ball against Earl Strickland. I was just 22 at the time and it was an experience I will never forget.
2003 - Matchroom decided to have the same winning team back, with the exception of Thorsten Hohmann who was the WC 9 ball at that time. He replaced Oliver Ortmann who became the first non playing captain. That year we played in Vegas and we were down 6-3 going into day 3, but were able to win that session 5-0. This put us up 8-6, but we ended up losing on the final day 11-9.
2006 - Finally, I get picked again, but had to work hard for it. I won the No. 1 European ranking for the second time, and we played in Rotterdam, Holland. Not even 60 minutes from my house. The venue was jam-packed with Dutch supporters, friends and family. Anyone that was there will remember the noise. This is where I played a match, which is in the top 5 most exciting matches I have ever played.
I played Earl Strickland in a race to 5 and was down 4-2. Unbelievably, I was able to win the match 5-4. You had to be there - the crowd went through the roof! Europe had managed to get it on the hill! It was absolutely spectacular. But unfortunately, the Mosconi Cup didn't come our way as the score was tied at 12-12 and the USA retained the Cup, having won the year before.
2010 - Back to London after nine years and it was even better than I had remembered. The crowd was spectacular and the arena was buzzing every time you walked in. The team was better than ever and our Captain Johan Ruijsink did a superb job in giving the team the right spirit to win the cup. I lost two single matches on the hill and was very disappointed with myself. However, immediately after Darren won that historic match against Dennis Hatch, Mika and I played a doubles match and we played some very offensive pool. Everything worked out perfectly in a match that had something of everything (jumps and combos included).
2011 - I am very pleased to have made the team again (my 5th year), as this was my number one goal all year. My next goal is winning the Mosconi cup in December !!!!!
I started playing pool when I was 14 years old (17 years ago) and I followed the Mosconi Cup from its conception in 1994. It was only a dream to me in those early years and in my wildest dreams, I never imagined that it would come true one day.

"What playing in the Mosconi Cup means to me? It's not like any other event in that you are really playing for your country. It's team USA against team Europe. So the pressure is way more intense than anything you play in all year. Every ball, every safe, every break shot, you literally feel like 300 million people depend on you coming through. It's an amazing feeling hearing the chants of USA, USA, USA!
My heart rate goes through the roof with excitement. The races are so short, but the adrenaline lasts all day. Even when I'm not playing, I am so nervous sitting on the side lines pulling for my teammates.
There's also a lot of mind games going on between both sides. We want to break hard and make the game tough, while Europe wants a cut break and big pockets. Everyone is trying to get the rules right to favor their side. So it makes for a tense battle over four days.
There really is no way to describe the feeling of playing in the Mosconi Cup. Having been able to continue to play well enough, it is a true honor and a privilege to make the team and experience playing in it."
Finally, I would like to say that I am over the moon knowing that the USA Team Captain this year is my friend, Charlie Williams. Not only is Charlie a great player in his own right, but has vastly improved my game over the last two years by helping improve all areas of my game.

I, honestly do not think I would have made the team this year if it was not for his help. I know that Charlie will motivate us all and that we are in very capable hands this year. He has already got me out running every day and on a rigid practice regime.
On December the 8th if the team shirts look a little big, you will know why !!!!