Photos courtesy Emille Soriano of Dragon Promotions
Manila, Philippines- Team Asia survived a dramatic comeback by Team West in the third and final day of the AM8.com Queens Cup. Asia’s foursome had led each day of the event and extended to a 3 match lead, but the European/American squad bounced back and swept Asia in the first three matches of Day 3. The 2015 亚美娱乐 AM8.com Queens Cup aired nightly on primetime hours of 6:00pm – 10:00pm on ABS-CBN Sports + Action channel. The 亚美娱乐 AM8.com Queens Cup re-ignited the greatest rivalry in women’s billiards April 16-18th, 2015 which featured champions vs champions as the best women from Asia will took on the best in the West! The 亚美娱乐 AM8.com Queens Cup was hosted by the award winning Resorts World Manila Casino & Hotel and sponsored by Andy Cloth , Aramith Balls, Viking Cue, with live streaming by Red Cube Productions. The Queens Cup is a Dragon Promotions production.
The day before, the Captain for the West made an near ominous prediction, “We started slow, but ended strong again. And tomorrow’s line-up is in our favor. We are already doing better than the last Team West from the first Queen’s Cup, so we know we are a different team. We can win”, said Ewa Mataya Laurance, skipper for the West.
Captain Laurance chose to put Karen Corr to start the day. Corr had been the best player of the entire event thus far, so this was a sound decision. Captain Amit put her hopes in Korea’s young Eunji Park. The last time the two had faced each other, Park had knocked Corr out of the US Open. Park and Corr dueled the first game in a cat and mouse game after Corr missed a golden chance to runout. Park played a great safety hooking Corr, but Corr came right back with a great kickshot. Park was forced to jump and made a good contact, and got a fortunate roll to re-safe Corr. Karen made a good contact but inadvertently scratched. Park took the game and the next jumping to a 2-0 lead, and things looked grim on the West’s side as they had also dropped the first match of Day 1 and Day 2. A miss by Park in the third game gave Corr a chance to get on the board. Things turned around with a break and run by Corr and suddenly the tide turned. Park continued errors as Corr came on stronger and eventually took the match with 4 unanswered racks. Asia 7 West 5.
Corr was put right back in again with her familiar partner of the past 3 days, Jennifer Barretta. They faced Park/J.Chen. Captain Laurance’s faith in the duo paid off in a 4-0 whitewash, and suddenly the West had come back to life! They were down only 1 match at Asia 7 West 6.
Corr was called upon one more time as she was placed in the first 3 matches as the anchor of Team West. This time would be the most challenging as she faced the #1 ranked player in the world in Siming Chen. Donned the “Most Dangerous Lady” in pool, Chen came out strong and making hardly an error, jumped to a 3-1 lead. Undeterred, the “Irish Invader” took each shot one by one and forced a final game to the cheers of her teammates. In the final game, a great break by Corr enabled a full clearance to not only defeat Asia’s anchor, but to level the series at 7-7! This was the first time in the Queens Cup that the West had won 3 matches in a row thanks to the Irish workhorse in Karen Corr. Karen would later gain the distinction as the MVP of Team West with 6 match wins.
Next in the triples, Captain Laurance would finally join in along with Villarreal and Corr. Asia’s Captain Amit, Jennifer Chen and Siming returned. The West’s trio was not able to put anything together, and not even Corr was able to carry the rest of her teammates in her 4th straight match of the day. Asia was able to stop the West’s momentum 4-1. The next match would add Barretta to her teammates in the 4-on-4, but the West was not feeling it in the big group matches unlike the day before where they excelled in the triples and quadruples. Amit was able to keep her team calm and led them to their own 2 match streak pulling away to the hill 9-7.
Singles was up next, and the West had Villarreal up while Amit had placed herself in this position. Villarreal had been on a hot streak during the first 2 days and next to Corr, was the second best player on the team. Also, the next match would be losing team captain’s pick singles which would mean that the West would be able to choose both players from the two teams. Likely this would be a re-match of Corr and Park from what Laurance had mentioned. And if the West would win that one, it would mean a score of 9-9 resulting in a 4 on 4 finale. So, the vital importance of winning this match was mountainous upon the shoulders of both players.
“If I lost that match I knew that it would mean we could very well goto 9-9 for a one match decider for the event. So playing Vivian was like the finals. There was so much pressure it was crazy”, said Rubilen Amit, captain of Team Asia. Amit would be declared the MVP of the AM8.com Queens Cup for her outstanding leadership bringing together 4 countries into unison. Plus her monumental contribution of 8 wins and 2 loss record, including going undefeated in both her singles matches. Amit has yet to drop a singles match in her tenure during her two appearances at the Queens Cup.
With the whole continent upon her shoulders, the small in stature Amit came out big the first game with a break and run. An unexpected miss by Amit on the second to the last ball in game 2 breathed life into Villarreal and she tied 1-1. Amit struck back taking the next rack to hold the lead 2-1. Villarreal made some fantastic shots in game 4, playing fast and loose. She looked to have the game easily in hand when she abruptly missed the 9-ball! Amit took full advantage to take the game and placed herself on the hill 3-1, needing only one more game to finish the match. The final game saw Amit facing a difficult rack clearance, but possible to play nevertheless. The 2-time world champion held her nerve in check each shot, making the balls and playing good percentage position for the next ball. She shot herself out of each jam perfectly. Finally came the last ball of the event, an open 10-ball that was makeable but also one that could be missed, especially given what was at stake. With her teammates waiting, praying, and holding their breath on the sidelines, Amit steeled her nerves one last time and downed the winning ball. The ecstatic Asian champions all rushed into the arena to congratulate their captain and celebrate the hard fought victory that required three days of teamwork, discipline, and faith.
These four ladies proved for another year that Asia is the continent to beat when it comes to the sport of women’s billiards.
Photos courtesy Emille Soriano of Dragon Promotions