Japan Jests Their Way to Semi-finals
The Japan billiard team became the first side to reach the semi-finals of the 2007 PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool. Naoyuki Oi and Satoshi Kawabata have come to Holland with the attitude of enjoying themselves in every match and their constant laughing, smiling and joking has made them firm favourites with the Dutch crowd.
After fine victories against Spain and Japan, Japan defeated Singapore 9-5 and will now meet either Philippines or China in Sunday’s semi-final.
Neither Japan or Singapore had been seeded and had performed well to reach the last eight.
All the quarter-finals were a race to nine and Singapore’s Chan Keng Kwang and Toh Lian Han made a fine start by taking the first two racks.
Japan had become one of the most popular sides left in the tournament due to the happy-go-lucky attitude of both players who had smiled their way through the competition, no matter what had happened on the table.
They had every reason to be happy shortly after as they won the next two racks to make it 2-2.
Both sides clinched one of the next two racks for a 3-3 scoreline in an entertaining start to the fifth day’s play. Chan Keng Kwang missed an attempt at the blue 2 and that enabled Japan to take the lead for the first time at 4-3.
The same player was at fault in the eighth rack as Chan sent the cue-ball hurtling towards the left side pocket to give the Japanese side ball-in-hand for a 5-3 advantage.
It should have become 5-4 as Oi left an easy shot for Singapore on the blue 2. Things were going the way of the Singapore side up to the 9-ball when they lost position and Chan, who was having a bad match, failed with his attempt to roll the 9-ball up the left rail.
That left an easy opportunity for Japan and it was 6-3. Seconds later it was 7-3. Oi played a spectacular 1-8-9 combination and the Japanese side were jumping for joy and two away from victory.
Oi failed to down the 1-ball but then bowed to the pool gods as the 1-ball was hidden behind the 9-ball. However, it did not matter as Toh played a fine kick-shot off the top rail to pocket the 1-ball and that enabled Singapore to win their first rack after four successive racks for Japan.
Singapore then clinched the next for 5-7. But Japan moved to the hill after a superb shot from Oi. Toh had produced a fine effort for a thin cut on the 4-ball but then lost position on the 5-ball.
Chan failed to make it safe and Oi, shooting into a blind pocket, produced a fantastic shot to roll the 5-ball into the bottom left pocket as Japan then moved to the hill for 8-5.
It had been a memorable tournament for the instantly likeable Japanese side and it got even better as they ran out from the break in the next for a fine 9-5 victory.