Sunday, September 12

Thrilla in Manila

I settled in Manila once more ready for some high-caliber pool action. I am sure the pool rooms like Star Paper and One Side had their fair share of the unofficial part of high stakes, but more so it was the atmosphere at Robinson's mall, particularly the "midtown wing". The Matchroom World Cup of Pool was about to take place.

There wasn't too many upsets early on and Team Finland (me and Markus Juva) went along those notes. In fact, we played quite well. The first match we only gave Singapore two real openings from which only one of them they capitalized. The first game started with me making a table-length jump-draw shot with perfect position. It ended good too: From 2-2 we ran again 4 racks and eventually got two more to end it 8-2.

The next round we faced Holland. Known quite well for their talent, they were not a team to take lightly. I have to mention that we got lucky in the first rack as I fluked a 9 two rails in the opposite corner. We redeemed ourselves by running two more racks from the break and playing perfect pool. 3-0. The fourth rack we played a safety shot. It turned out wise because they were unable to contend. We got an open shot an proceeded to run out a couple more racks to 6-0. The 7th rack was anybody's game really but again we got out of a safety battle ahead and made it 7-0. Then they finally got on the board 7-1. Another safety battle in the 9th rack and Niels missing a safety gave us all we needed to finish the Dutchmen of with an 8-1 carnage.

Meanwhile big upsets took place like Indonesia beating Philippines A, France beating UK and Poland got the best of USA.

In the quarterfinals we went up against Philippine B who had just beat Spain. This was quite a frustrating game as they were on a good roll. They even got a couple of lucky breaks. We really had a first open shot when it was 0-7. Then I actually dogged an 8-balll. I am still not sure what happened but I had to just witness the 8-ball hanging in the jaws of a pocket that apparently had caused a lot of headaches during this tournament. It could have been 1-7, but it was 0-8. I was upset and kind of losing hope. Markus was trying to keep a positive attitude but we both knew deep down it was a mountain to climb. We did finally managed to get on the board 9th rack but again our break failed us like in the first rack. 1-9 was the score. It felt like a public execution on a market square. So intense is the Filipino crowd. I wanted to disappear, but resorted in giving hundreds of autographs and taking another 100 photos with fans. I have to say, the fans made me feel better. They were very sympathetic.

Philippines progressed and beat Taiwan in a 9-8 nail-biter while China took care of Germans hopes for the final.

In the finals both team showed early nervousness but China got in their mojo quicker and jumped up to a 9-1 lead race to 10. Philippines had a little surge and closed the gap 9-5 but I guess the semi kind of took most of their energy and they had to hand it to China. So after beating team Finland in 07 China is once again victorious.


noel said...

Thank you sir Mika... you really an inspiration to us...And also to Sir Markus...

Joyce said...

Hi Mr. Mika. One of your avid follower while in Manila last September 11 and lucky enough to be with you in one of the pictures that i have had. You are really the most pleasant guy in the billiard arena. Keep it up.