Team Europe Sweeps Day 3 of the Mosconi Cup
By InsidePOOL Magazine Staff
Day 3 of the Mosconi Cup has come to an end without a single victory for Team USA. Down 6-3, the European team came back to win all five matches to swing the score to 8-6. With the final day looming on Sunday, Team Europe needs three games, while Team USA needs all five.
The youngest member ever to play in a Mosconi Cup, Nick Van den Berg matched up with Tony Robles of New York to start off the day. After a break-and-run in the first game for Van den Berg, Robles opted to push out in the second, but Van den Berg had a clean shot on the 1 and subsequently cleared the table to take a 2-0 lead. A missed cross-bank attempt by his opponent gave Robles a game under his belt; however, he scratched in the following rack, and Van den Berg got out again. Playing consistently and without nerves, Van den Berg capitalized on a missed bank shot by Robles to reach the hill. “The Silent Assassin” retaliated with a break-and-run, and when his opponent scratched on his next break, he cleared that table as well to pull within a game of Van den Berg. The last rack left Robles with no shot on the 2, and he chose to push out, leaving no shot on the object ball. Van den Berg wisely refused, and when Robles fouled, Van den Berg ran out the rack to win 5-3. Score U.S. 6, Europe 4.
The German team effort of Ralf Souquet and Thorsten Hohmann dealt another loss to Team USA through Rodney Morris and Johnny Archer. While the same teams played each other in the final game on Friday, and the U.S. triumphed, today was a whole different ball game. Before the lag, Archer and Morris touched fists in a “Wonder Twin Powers” move, but while the Americans kept up with Team Europe until the end, they were unable to pull the match off. “Rocket” was the only player to successfully break and run out a rack, which he did twice; the remaining matches were filled with multiple innings. Archer seemed to have troubles with his break and made a couple of errors, and while the European team was not error-free, they triumphed after a bungled safety attempt by Archer allowed Hohmann to run the final rack out and win the hill-hill match 5-4. Team USA 6, Team Europe 5.
With a great deal of fanfare, the second singles match went off. Earl “The Pearl” Strickland and Steve Davis, longtime rivals on the green, went head-to-head. The crowd was treated to footage on the big screens above of past Strickland interviews and antics, greatly amusing the Europeans in the audience. Complaining about the fans calling him names during his match at the famed 2003 World Pool Championships, also a Matchroom Sport event, in an interview, Strickland was seen saying, “I’m lucky I played as well as I did. I think I’m a remarkable person.” This initiated a loud collective scream of laughter, and then the match began. Davis played safe after his first break, and Strickland sold out, leaving him a clean shot on the 2. England’s champion ran out the rack with the incredible accuracy of a snooker titleholder to draw first blood. He won the next rack in the exact same fashion, and then a break-and-run put him up 3-0 while Strickland sat in his chair with his head in his hands. A missed 8 ball by Strickland put Davis on the hill with Strickland still at nil. Forced to kick at the 1 ball in the final rack, Davis played a nice safe, forcing Strickland to kick as well. After studying the shot, Davis played a difficult 1-8 carom and proceeded to run out the remaining balls to win the third match 5-0. Team USA and Team Europe tied at 6.
Team Europe’s star Mika Immonen and Marcus Chamat matched up against Charlie Williams and current U.S. Open champion Jeremy Jones. Jones won the lag and ran out the rack to take the first game, but after he fouled in the next rack, the Europeans tied at 1. The teams traded games once more to knot at 2 games, but star player Immonen capitalized on a missed 8 ball by Williams and took a 3-2 lead. Immonen then broke and ran out to reach the hill, and when Williams came up dry on the break, he cleared the table to win the match 5-2. Team Europe takes a 7-6 lead on Team USA.
The last match of Day 3 saw former U.S. Open victor Ralf Souquet match up with Jeremy Jones in a match that could tie up the score at 7 games apiece for the two teams. Souquet took the first two games after two misses by Jones. He came up dry on his next break, and Jones cleared to get on the board. He then broke and ran the following game to tie at 2. A break-and-run by the German saw the lead swing to Souquet, and a missed bank attempt by Jones put Souquet on the hill with Jones at 2. The tall Texan speared in a 1 ball and snuck a tight 4 past the 8 to draw within a game of his opponent, causing the audience members to sit on the edge of their chairs. Jones came up dry on his last break, and Souquet ran out the exceptionally tough rack until he missed the 8 ball in the side. Jones opted to play a sweet safe behind the 9 ball with the 8 on the side rail, but incredibly, after a great deal of deliberation, Souquet kicked two rails to connect with the 8 and drive it into the corner pocket. This left him perfect on the 9, which he pocketed to win the last match 5-3. Team Europe took the lead 8-6 against Team USA.
Sunday, December 21, 2003, will be the last day of the Mosconi Cup. The race is to 11 points; Europe needs only 3, while the U.S. needs 5.
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