World Cup of Pool Day Three – Double joy for Japan and Holland

Team Russia


Round 1 Results
Japan 8-6 Russia
Holland 8-7 Croatia
THERE were close fought wins for both Japan and Holland as first round action continued at the Robinsons Mall in Ermita, Manila in the World Cup of Pool. The Japanese pair of Naoyuki Oi and veteran Satoshi Kawabata edged past a nervous Russian side by 8-6, while Nick Van den Berg and Huidji See came back from the dead to oust Croatia.
In front of a fair sized crowd the Dutch looked relaxed as they opened up a 3-1 lead. However, the Croatian pair of Karlo Dalmatin and Philipp Stojanovic were made of sterner stuff and grew in confidence as they surged ahead winning four racks on the spin to move into a 5-3 lead.
The comeback dented the Dutchmen’s esteem and at 6-4 up, the Croatians delivered a dry break but the Dutch ran out of position and ultimately Van den Berg missed a 5 ball made more difficult than it should have been because of that bad position.
Croatia cleared to move one away from victory at 7-4 but there was plenty of drama left.
The Dutch got the better of a safety exchange to take the next and then ran out from the break for 6-7. Despite a dry break in the next, Van den Berg potted a sensational 1 ball to lead the charge to another hill-hill thriller.
The deciding rack was not short on drama as See saw a long difficult shot on the 3 ball and missed badly. Stojanovic though made a major error as he missed the 4 ball and left an open table and the match belonged to Holland.
“I can’t express how much joy there is right now in Team Holland,” said Van den Berg.
“Being down 7-4 and coming back with the right shots. I haven’t been that nervous in a while. But hey, that’s what you play for - excitement and finish!”
Stojanovic said, "We were under a lot of pressure at the end and yes, I dogged that 4 ball. I think they had way more rolls than us. From 7-4 they had a lot more rolls but it happens. We try to enjoy, we wanted to win and we put a lot of pressure on them.”
In spite of representation from some of the best players in the world over the last few years – Van den Berg, Lely, Diks, See, Feijen – the Dutch have never made any significant progress in this event. Maybe 2012 is their year.
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.
In the other match, Japan got the better of Russia after Stepanov and Pavlukhin came back from a 0-4 deficit to make a match of it.
In the end the match hinged on a critical miscue from the 17 year-old Pavlukhin with an easy run out on and the score resting at 7-6 to Japan. He tried to bang the 7 ball into the centre pocket and go three rails for position but totally miscued, failing to hit the object ball, to give ball in hand and victory to the tidy Japanese team.
Stepanov said, "When you make a comeback like we did that's when the pressure comes in. What can I say? Vitaly needs to learn a few shots. It was really a one or two rail shot and he wanted to play a three rail shot.
“It's OK, because he played a couple of great shots earlier. He'll learn. He's young and he's got a lot of talent. The break shot was very difficult. We just couldn't make a ball on the break. But then again neither could they."
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