Philippines 7-5 Albania
Canada 7–6 Estonia
Chinese Taipei 5-7 Greece
Canada beat Estonia in a dramatic hill-hill clash to reach the last eight of the BetVictor World Cup of Pool, while there were also wins for Philippines over Estonia and Greece against Chinese Taipei on Friday afternoon at the Morningside Arena, Leicester.
Three-time World Cup winners the Philippines (Carlo Biado and Jeff De Luna) fell 3-1 behind against the Albanian team of Eklent Kaci and Besar Spahiu but the Asian side then won five consecutive racks to reach the hill in the race-to-seven clash. Albania fought back and ran the tenth before benefitting from De Luna’s dry break in the 11th to cut the deficit to just one.
Then, with the match threatening to move towards hill-hill, De Luna pulled off a brilliant cut to the middle to make the 7 and the remaining two balls were easy for the Filipino pair, who have now equalled their 2018 showing of reaching the quarter-finals.
They’ll meet Canada after Estonia’s Denis Grabe and Mark Magi snatched defeat from the jaws victory, a mistake from the latter gifting the match to Alex Pagulayan and John Morra when it looked like the Europeans would clean up at hill-hill.
Estonia took the lead with a smart 3/9 and when John Morra missed an 8-ball bank for Canada, it was an easy out for Estonia. They picked up two more racks and led 4-0 before Canada got on the board but when they did, they strung together a three-pack. A Grabe 5/9 gave Estonia a two-rack advantage and although Canada replied immediately, Estonia were able to reach the hill at 6-4 ahead.
Canada caught them and at 6-6 the pressure got the better of Magi, who played terrible position on the 7, locking the cue up against the object ball. Grabe then scratched trying to retrieve the situation, and Canada completed the set for the match.
“I don’t know where to begin with that one,” said Morra. “We struggled from game one but we fought to the bitter end so I am proud of us. We have to try and go back and feel how we did in the first match; we felt good and were in control but this time we got behind.
“We lost to Philippines in 2012 where they had a big home crowd behind them, but this year we don’t have to face that crowd, we just have to play well.”
The session’s closing match also went the distance. It was nip and tuck all the way between the Ko brothers Pin Yi and Ping Chung for Chinese Taipei and Greek duo Alexander Kazakis and Nick Malaj, and after ten of the 13 racks it was 5-5.
Greece were the first to the hill and had Kazakis breaking for the match. The one ball was down but there wasn’t a shot on the two. Greece pushed out and after both teams visited the table, Ping Chung attempted to jump a group of balls in the centre of the table to reach the two, but sent the cue flying off the table. Ball in hand was what Greece wanted but Malaj played poor position on the 6 and Kazakis opted for the safety. They were soon back at the table and despite Kazakis being left a tricky shot on the 7, which he could only just see behind the 9, this time they closed out the match.
The second round concludes on Friday evening, with Great Britain against Poland one of three matches. The quarter-finals take place on Saturday with the semi-finals and final on Sunday. The BetVictor World Cup of Pool is broadcast live in over 100 countries around the world, including on Sky Sports and DAZN.
The BetVictor World Cup of Pool is sponsored by Rasson Billiards, who supply the Official Table; the cloth is supplied by Iwan Simonis and the Official Balls are Super Aramith by Saluc. Predator are the Official Cue of the event and Kamui the Official Chalk and Tip.