One team who a lot of people are tipping for the top in the World Cup of Pool in Spain is Chinese Taipei. The Ko Brothers lived up to their name as they delivered a K.O. blow to the Finnish pairing of Mika Immonen and Petri Makkonen, who won this tournament together back in 2012. The K.O. Brothers will play the Netherlands next, who beat Robbie Capito and Lo Ho Sum, representing Hong Kong China 7-4. Ko Pin Yi and Ko Pin Chung will face the Netherlands next round.
One theme that has emerged from the two days of matches is that all teams have had chances to win their matches. With the same break format and tighter pockets, there haven’t been many big packs put together, and even in the Great Britain versus Qatar match, there were chances for both teams. Memorably, in the Austria against Australia clash, the Aussies were 6-4 ahead but just couldn’t convert it into a win, and Mario He and Albin Ouschan, who have won this tournament on two occasions, survived a few scares along the way before finally falling over the line.
Another strong team, as always, is Germany, and Josh Filler has a new partner this year after the fairytale win for Josh and Christoph Reintjes last year, beating the 2014 world champions Darren Appleton and Karl Boyes. Karl is still involved in this year’s event but holding a microphone instead of a cue. The Killer Filler has a new young partner in Moritz Neuhausen, who I think is going to be around for a very long time. Watch out for this formidable German Duo, they swept aside team New Zealand, who have the long journey home to reflect on their 7-2 loss, to in my eyes are certainly a team to consider lifting that trophy on Sunday, but their next match is not going to be easy as they will come up against John Morra and the little man with the big heart Alex ‘The Lion’ Pagulayan.
Another very strong force is Poland, they could probably make four teams from the talent they have in ‘Pooland’ as I like to call it, but it’s Wiktor Zielinski and Konrad Juszczyszyn who made it this year, and they beat another young side Serbia 7-2, but I think they will find it a bit tougher as they go cue to cue with Albania. Mr. Perfection, who doesn’t need a bodyguard, but he does have a policeman in his corner, Besar Spahiu. I wish he would bring a speed gun with him because I would love to know if Kaci is breaking the 30-mile-an-hour speed limit on the break.
Hungary was next in the arena and was beaten by Bosnia and Herzegovina to set up a last-16 match against Austria for Sanjin Pehlivanovic and Ajdin Piknjac. It won’t be a picnic for Piknjac and Pehlivanovic.
Spain has the luxury of having two teams this year as the host nation, and after the 2022 champions, David Alcaide and world number 1 Francisco Sanchez Ruiz, went crashing out in the first match on Tuesday. You could be excused for thinking that you were watching Spain A tonight against Saudi Arabia as Jonas Souto Comino and Jose Alberto Delgado performed breathtakingly against Saudi Arabia as they entertained the largest crowd so far with a very convincing 7-1 win. I love these Spanish fans. They are certainly up for a party, as they showed us at the Spanish Open in the same venue last week. I would love a shop in Lugo at the moment selling Spanish flags and hats, the Spaniards love a siesta, but they are more in the mood for a fiesta, dancing and singing, and we were even treated to the ‘Macarena,’ Phil Yates in the commentary booth said, “I’d rather have a macaroon which you can see from the size of my waistline.” Team Spain was magnificent tonight, and I am really looking forward to their next match against the Philippines if only to see a packed house creating an excellent atmosphere and there is, of course, a little added spice to this contest as it was James Aranas and Johann Chua that sent Spain A crashing out.
Thursday, we get our first look at China; no place for Spanish open winner Dang Jin Hu but Wu Jaiqing is back with partner Wang Can as they take on Syria. Japan will make their entry against Italy, the strong pair from Vietnam Duong Quoc Hoang and Nguyen Anh Tuan will take on Kuwait, and of course, the big guns from Team USA, Captain America himself Shane Van Boening, and semi-finalist in last week's Spanish open, pools Mr nice guy, Skyler Woodward.
Play begins on Thursday at 6 AM CST, 12 NOON in the UK and 6 PM in Asia.
It’s getting even hotter in Spain. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. If you can, then I hope you can break well from it.
Adios until next time guys