Philippines Knocked Out of World Cup
Defending champions Philippines have crashed out of the 2007 World Cup of Pool. The Filipino duo of Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante suffered a shock 9-6 defeat against the Chinese pairing of Fu Jian-bo and Li He-wen.
Philippines won the 2006 World Cup of Pool but suffered a huge scare in the opening round of the defence of their title when they had to battle hard to scrape an 8-6 win over Scotland.
But their progress was easier in the last 16 as they recorded the only whitewash of the whole competition so far with an 8-0 triumph over Croatia.
China had reached the quarter-finals thanks to an 8-1 victory over South Africa and an 8-6 triumph over France.
Philippines won the lag but no one could have expected what happened next as Bustamante recorded a dry break, something that had happened only a handful of times all week.
Bustamante then made another surprising error when he missed an escape shot from a snooker to give China ball-in-hand and Li He-wen made it 1-0 to the two Chinese players with the break in the second.
It was proving to be a poor start from Bustamante as China lost position of the cue ball but Philippines gifted them a route back when Bustamante scratched with only three balls left on the table.
China took the opportunity and quickly moved into a 2-0 lead in this race to nine. Reyes and Bustamante were glued to their seats in the third rack as Li He-wen and Fu Jian-bo broke and ran through the rack to see the defending champions 3-0 down.
There had been a number of upsets in this tournament with USA, Taiwan, Holland A and Germany among the sides failing to make the semi-finals. Philippines would have an uphil task to avoid suffering a similar fate.
Li He-wen had announced himself to the pool world by reaching the semi-finals of the 2006 World Pool Championships and his country were on course to make the last four of another major global competition.
China ran out the fourth rack as Bustamante and Reyes, who are often joking and smiling in the arena, sat in silence and were becoming increasingly worried.
With the winner-break format, Philippines needed some luck and got it at the start of the fifth as Fu Jian-bo came up with a dry break of his own. Bustamante and Reyes, national heroes in their home country and supported by a large number of fans here in Rotterdam, did the rest to finally make their mark on the scoreboard, but still trailed 1-4.
In the next, Bustamante misjudged a safety on the 1 but it was not immediately punished, although Reyes’ attempt on the 1-ball that rattled in the top left pocket but would not drop did prove costly.
A spectacular 6-9 combination from Fu Jian-bo moved China one step closer to victory and gave them a four-rack advantage at 5-1.
Fu went from hero to villain in a very quick space of time as he missed an attempt at the red 3 and the Philippines pulled a rack back at 2-5, as the crowd began to hope of a memorable fightback.
A two-rail safety escape from Li to hit the 2-ball went wrong in the eighth to give ball-in-hand to the Philippines and they clinched their second rack in a row, although were still behind by a 3-5 scoreline.
Bustamante made one of the best pots of the tournament with a stunning table-length attempt on the 1-ball but then got no luck as the cue ball had drifted out of position. As a result, Reyes missed the attempt on the 2-ball and China regained control of the match as the scoreboard now showed 6-3.
China ran out the next as Reyes and Bustamante both looked miserable and knew they were only two racks away from being eliminated.
They needed some luck and got it in the next. With the 1-ball over the pocket but another ball between that and the cue ball, it seemed a straight-forward kick-shot off the bottom rail.
However, Li’s attempt was unsuccessful and Philippines gratefully grasped the opportunity to win another rack. 4-7. Li and Fu both left chances in the next rack and it eventually went the Philippines’ way as Reyes banked the 4-ball into the 9-ball for 5-7.
In a thrilling 13th rack, with the cue ball on the bottom rail and the 9-ball tight on the top rail, Fu tried a brave attempt of bouncing the cue ball off the left side rail. It would have been one of the shots of the tournament if successful but instead left a simple pot for Reyes as they took their third rack in a row for 6-7.
The match had looked to be swinging the Philippines way but they changed in the next as Reyes missed a simple green 6 as China moved to the hill and led 8-6. They ran out the next to seal a fine 9-6 victory.