Veteran pool icons keep PH flag waving in World Cup
EFREN Reyes-Django Bustamante stayed in step for a third World Cup of Pool title late Thursday after downing Canada’s Alex Pagulayan and Alex Morra, 8-4, for a quarterfinal seat before an animated crowd at Robinson’s Place.
Representing Philippines-B, the duo came back from a 2-4 deficit by coming up with shots that have so far defined their performances in the $250,000 event it had ruled twice before.
Next up for the only remaining Philippine bet is the dangerous Finnish pair of Mika Immonen and Petri Makkonen, which upset top-seeded defending champion Ralf Souquet and Thorsten Hohmann of Germany, 8-4, also Thursday.
Finland unveiled a gem of a second man in Makkonen, a burly blonde with a monster break and a delicate touch, as the Finns won the final five racks to easily overhaul a 3-4 deficit.
Immonen-Makkonen actually took a 3-1 lead but committed two unforced errors in the next three frames, including an uncharacteristic miss by the former World No. 1 Immonen on the 9 ball in the sixth rack that allowed Germany to draw level at 3.
“It’s going to be a good match,” Reyes said in Filipino, referring to PH-B’s match with the Finns at around 8 p.m. today for a place in the Final Four. “We just have to do better with our breaks, because right now, that’s the weakest part of our game.”
Shane Van Boening and Rodney Morris of the United States also advanced after scoring an 8-4 drubbing of Austria’s Albin Ouschan and Mario He.
The Americans will be joined in the Final Eight by two-time champion China after Liu Haitao and Lee Hewen dismantled Spain’s David Alcaide and Francisco Diaz Pizarro, 8-1.
Chris Melling and Darren Appleton of England ripped Thailand’s Nitiwat Kanjanasri-Kobkit Palajin, 8-2, to march on.
Reyes, who hasn’t won a title since partnering with Bustamante to win the 2009 staging of this event, knows that Father Time is his biggest stumbling block.
“My hands are shaking now, unlike during my younger years,” he said. “And after the loss (of Philippines A in the first round), the pressure on us to win is even greater.”
“They (Immonen and Makkonen) are playing well,” the 48-year-old Bustamante said in Filipino. “But if we can break better, we have a good chance.”