World Cup of Pool – Champs are out as Finns and Pinoys make quarters

The Finnish team of Petri Makkonen and Mika Immonen


Round 2
Finland 8-4 Germany
Philippines B 8-5 Canada
THE FIRST two quarter-final spots have been decided at the 2012 World Cup of Pool as the Finnish pair of Mika Immonen and Petri Makkonen ousted defending champions Germany, and then home-town heroes Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante kept Filipino dreams alive as they scored an emotional win over Canada.
At 4-2 up the Canadians looked well set, as Alex Pagulayan and John Morra looked confident in contrast to their opponents who looked under the cosh and under pressure in front of thousands of their countrymen.
Slowly though the tide began to turn as Reyes came with some shots that had the crowd on their feet as Pagulayan missed a couple of critical balls. The big moment came in the 12th rack when, with two balls on the ball, Reyes played a trademarked table length bank on the 8 ball, leaving an easy 9 ball for Bustamante to out the team on the hill.
A dry break with the 1 ball on was not what Bustamante wanted but when Pagulayan dogged an easy 6 ball, it was all over as the huge crowd understandably went nuts. They now play Finland in the quarter-finals.
Commented Reyes: “At the beginning there was too much pressure. My hands were shaking, but when they make a few mistakes I started to feel better and I calmed down.  You have to play good against these guys because Canada is good. But Alex make like four mistakes so that’s no good for them.“
On his clutch 8-ball bank in rack 12: “I can’t play safe on that shot. The cue ball is close to the 8-ball and that makes the pocket bigger so it’s better to play offense.  I have no choice because there is nowhere to hide the ball.”
Bustamante added, “We have to be careful against Finland because they are playing good. But me and Efren are practicing every day. Our one weak point right now is that we are no good in breaking. So if we can fix the break, we got a good chance.
“The crowd is really supportive of us. They are amazing and we love all the support from the Filipino people. It’s always fun to play in the Philippines and especially the Matchroom events. We really want to thank everybody for their support.”
The 2012 World Cup of Pool runs from Tuesday September 4 to Sunday, September 9 at Robinson’s Place, Ermita, Manila.  Once again the total prize fund is US$250,000 with $60,000 going to the eventual champions. Tickets for the extravaganza will be available at the venue on the day of play but with plentiful balconies offering superb views of the playing arena, organisers are anticipating crowds in the thousands rather than hundreds.
Earlier, defending champions Germany fell by the wayside, ousted 8-4 by an in-form Finnish team who are improving all the way. In a match featuring three World Pool Champions, it was Mika Immonen and Petri Makkonen who prevailed looking the sharper team throughout.
After their opening round win against Korea, Immonen predicted that the German pair of Thorsten Hohmann and Ralf Souquet could well be in for a torrid time and his apposite words proved correct as the Finns overcame German resistance in the early stages to race away with it.
Germany moved in to a 4-3 lead after Immonen missed an easy 9 ball, but the Finns nicked the next and then broke and ran the ninth game to take the lead. Two more excellent run outs put the Finnish pair on the hill and when Ralf Souquet leaves poor position, the Finns take over the table and coolly run the balls to take the match and move into the quarter-finals.
Commented Mika Immonen, “We broke better than them and that was totally huge. I could see they were struggling. Their break was all over the place and that put a lot of pressure on them.
“Petri is coming along great and he made some great shots. We are working as a unit, we just KO’d the defending champions and we can do anything.”
Makkonen added “We played a perfect match. Everything went right for us and we are playing very well together.”
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