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Team USA Set for Mosconi Cup

Van Boening will be making a sixth consecutive appearance. (Photo by JP Parmentier-Matchroom Sport)

Van Boening will be making a sixth consecutive appearance. (Photo by JP Parmentier-Matchroom Sport)

Here’s the official release from Matchroom Sport announcing the five players who will compete for Team USA and captain CJ Wiley:

Following from his undefeated run through last week’s U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship, Shane Van Boening cemented his place at the head of the American 2012 PartyPoker.com Mosconi Cup rankings to secure his spot on the team as one of the top two automatic spots.

“I’m so happy to be on my sixth appearance as Mosconi USA team member,” Van Boening said. “As I just won the U.S. Open, I know I’m playing well this year and will try my best to help the team take home the title.”

Such was Van Boening’s dominance of the five-event series that he beat the second placed player Mike Dechaine by an incredible 218 points. In his previous five Mosconi Cup appearances, the South Dakota Kid sports a record of 12 wins from 26 matches.

For second placed Dechaine it will be a return to the team following on from his debut in Las Vegas last year and he will be relishing the chance to show what he can do in front of a partisan, sold-out crowd at the York Hall, London, from December 10-13.

“I am very excited to compete in my second consecutive Mosconi Cup, especially with this one being in London,” Dechaine said. “With the crowds being heavily in Europe’s favor, this is without a doubt the team I’d want going against it.”

The first of the remaining three wildcard picks is Virginia’s Brandon Shuff, who caps off a fine season to make his Mosconi Cup debut at the age of 29.

“When I was growing up, it was an American pool player’s dream to play on the Mosconi Cup,” he said. “This is definitely a blessing and hard work is paying off and I’m excited for this accomplishment and I’ll be training hard to help our team bring that Cup back where it belongs.”

Back for his third Mosconi Cup is Dennis Hatch. An MVP in his 2009 debut when his gung-ho team spirit helped propel the team to victory, Hatch will be hoping for a successful return to the York Hall where he made his last Mosconi Cup appearance in 2010.

“It’s always an honor and privilege to represent the US,” he said. “I am so fired up and hungry that the only thing I plan on tasting while in Europe is victory, because I believe this is one of the best teams yet.”

The final spot in the team is filled by Georgia’s Johnny Archer who will be making a record-breaking 16th consecutive Mosconi Cup appearance. With a winning percentage of 53, the Scorpion made his debut at the event in 1996 and has been an ever-present since.

“It is an honor to represent the USA team for my 16th straight year,” he said. “And I will do whatever it takes to help the boys take that cup from York Hall and bring it back to America where it belongs.”

U.S. Open: Van Boening in Hot-Seat

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Despite their much heralded domination of professional pool in the past two decades, the Philippines has collected just two U.S. Open crowns, with Efren Reyes’s win in 1994 and Alex Pagulayan’s 11 years later. But that seven-year winless streak looked a good bet to end, when five of the six remaining players at this year’s event had connections to the island nation.

A Pinoy champion, though, will have to go through Shane Van Boening. The American throttled Pagulayan in Saturday afternoon’s hot-seat match. Clearing six racks from the break, Van Boening sprinted away from his frequent foe, eventually taking the match, 11-5.

The left side of the bracket, meanwhile, looked like a mini-tournament in Manila. Efren Reyes topped Ronnie Alcano late Friday evening, 11-9, in what was an uncharacteristically sloppy match. Dennis Orcollo bested Jose Parica, 11-4, in a one-sided set where the 63-year-old appeared to tire after a thrilling run deep into the tournament.

On Saturday afternoon, Orcollo then faced Reyes, with the winner then getting Pagulayan in the third-place match. Though making fewer and fewer trips to the United States in recent years, 58-year-old Reyes electrified the crowd with his play throughout the U.S. Open’s first week.

The greatest thrill came in his 11-10 victory over two-time defending champ Darren Appleton. Facing a tricky kick shot on the 4 ball in the case game, Reyes sent the pink off three rails and into the 9 ball, which then crawled into the side pocket for the win. From there, Reyes topped China’s Wang Can and Orcollo, before losing to Pagulayan.

In a left-side rematch with Orcollo, the Magician was unable to find a rhythm. Orcollo opened up an early three-rack lead, which he maintained until the final 9 ball fell for an 11-8 win.

With Van Boening now resting until Saturday night’s final, Pagulayan and Orcollo are facing off for the second seat in the championship set. Orcollo holds and early 4-2 lead in the modified race to 11.

Van Boening Takes U.S. Open Title No. 2

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Dennis Orcollo is arguably the best tournament player on the planet. But in the final of the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship, he barely stood a chance. Shane Van Boening, riding a break that bordered on the sublime, blasted his way past the Filipino powerhouse to take his second U.S. Open crown by a count of 13-7.

The 29-year-old American jumped out to an early 9-2 lead in the modified race to 13. Winning eight straight at one point, Van Boening dropped a ball on the break seven straight racks, four of which he cleared without letting Orcollo to the table. Following a scratch on the break in the 12th game, Van Boening’s only unsuccessful break in the set, Orcollo made an impressive run of his own, closing the gap to just 9-7. But a missed table-length jump on the 1 ball was the end of Orcollo’s road. Van Boening cleared that rack, then broke and ran the final three for an emphatic stamp on his U.S. Open victory.

“I’ve been playing a lot of pool the last month or so,” Van Boening said, shortly after his victory. “I felt really good coming here. I had a lot of confidence and started out [playing well].”

His path through the winners bracket and into the hot-seat included a number of world-class players, only one of whom managed to stay with the two-time BD Player of the Year. In his third match, Van Boening throttled Mosconi Cup foe Nick van den Berg, 11-4, before besting Chris Melling by the same count. In the next round, he faced Ronnie Alcano, his opponent from the 2007 U.S. Open final. The lanky Filipino stood within a rack advancing, but Van Boening collected the final two racks for a thrilling 11-10 win.

That would be his one and only close call. Two more Filipinos fell, with Van Boening topping Jose Parica and Alex Pagulayan, both 11-5, to take his spot in the final.

On the one-loss side, Orcollo was gathering steam after his loss to Efren Reyes. He won three straight, including an 11-7 victory that ended Darren Appleton’s hopes for a third straight Open crown, to earn a rematch with Reyes. The 58-year-old legend was the story of the tournament’s opening week, but Orcollo was too much. He sent Reyes packing, 11-8, before eliminating Pagulayan in third place.

While Van Boening and Orcollo are far from strangers — the two frequently match up in money games — the American would not be denied. With title no. 2 at just 29, Van Boening didn’t waste time looking forward, if only in jest.

“What do I need, three more to tie Earl?” he said, acknowledging Earl Strickland’s record five U.S. Open titles.

If he can come anywhere close to replicating his dominant form over the past week, though, the joke might be on his competition.

Dozen Remain in U.S. Open Hunt

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — If you’re looking for story lines at the 2012 U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship, the winners-side final four should provide plenty. Efren Reyes, Jose Parica, Alex Pagulayan and Shane Van Boening remain unbeaten. Young vs. old, Philippines vs. U.S., former champions chasing titles or an overdue contender closing in on his crown, the final 24 hours of the U.S. Open should be riveting.

Parica, 63, is chasing his first Open title after finished second in 2003. He will face the 29-year-old Van Boening, who has been absolutely dominant thus far. In a superb match against Ronnie Alcano — a rematch of the 2007 final, won by the American — Van Boening erased a late two-rack deficit to take an 11-10 victory.

On the other side of the bracket, Pagulayan and Reyes will square off. The Magician has been nothing short of magical in his march through the right side. He topped two-time reigning champ Darren Appleton, 11-10, on Thursday afternoon, then outlasted Wang Can, 11-7, that evening. On Friday, he then trumped Dennis Orcollo, leader of the Philippines’ next generation of stars, 11-7.

Over on the one-loss side of the bracket, it’s tough to find a player without top-tier credentials. Johnny Archer faces Darren Appleton, with the Englishman plodding through the left side in search of his third straight U.S. Open title. World 9-Ball champ Chang Jung-Lin, China’s Li Hewen and Netherlander Niels Feijen top an impressive international class of hopefuls.

Stay tuned, as updates will be posted as each round of play concludes.

Appleton Loses Bid for Third U.S. Open

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — It goes without saying that you can’t win the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship without a lucky break or two. In the case of Darren Appleton, who went unbeaten on his way to victories in 2010 and 2011, this year’s story took a turn with a very unlucky break. In a Thursday match with Efren Reyes, the Brit watched the Filipino legend fluke in the 9 in the case game. The loss sent Appleton to the left, where his pursuit of a third consecutive title would be much more difficult.

On Friday evening, that pursuit ended with an 11-7 loss to Dennis Orcollo. Like Mika Immonen, who chased the three-peat in 2010, Appleton showed championship mettle, but simply couldn’t muster the magic of the previous two years.

With the win, Orcollo earned a spot opposite Jose Parica in Friday’s last round of matches. The winner, as well as the winner of the set between Ronnie Alcano and Reyes, will be among the final four players to advance to Saturday.

While the eliminations continue, two unbeaten players — former champs Shane Van Boening and Alex Pagulayan — have punched tickets to Saturday afternoon’s hot-seat match. In his set with Parica, Van Boening struggled to get rolling at first. But he built a lead against the 63-year-old Filipino, and eventually ran away with the match, 11-5.

Pagulayan, meanwhile, sprinted to an early lead in his match with Reyes. Taking the first six racks, Pagulayan never relented in his pressure until he dropped the clinching 9 ball for an 11-5 victory.

U.S. Open Primed for Big Weekend

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Heading into the final two days of the 2012 U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships, it’s clear that the strong have survived. At the conclusion of play on the winners side on Thursday night, just eight players remained. And that octet packed plenty of star power.

Former champions Shane Van Boening, Alex Pagulayan and Johnny Archer are all chasing title No. 2. But in perhaps the most thrilling story of the U.S. Open to this point, 58-year-old Efren Reyes strung together five victories — including an electrifying 11-10 win over two-time defending champ Darren Appleton — to put himself in contention for the Open crown. He will square off against countryman Dennis Orcollo on Friday. Pagulayan and Archer will square off in the other match on that side of the bracket.

Scotland’s Jayson Shaw will face 63-year-old Jose Parica on the other side of the bracket. Parica, runner-up at the 2003 U.S. Open, advanced via a dominant victory over a resurgent Earl Strickland, 11-5. The winner of that set will then face the victor in Shane Van Boening’s match against Ronnie Alcano, a rematch of the 2007 U.S. Open won by the American.

While eight players have two bullets left in their revolvers, the left side is packed with championship-caliber talent. Most notably, late Thursday evening, Darren Appleton trailed American Oscar Dominguez. In search of his third-straight title, the Englishman was struggling to rally in the second match after his heart-breaking loss to Reyes.

Leading the charge on the one-loss side, Japan’s Yukio Akagariyama, China’s Li Hewen and Taiwan’s Chang Jung-Lin are major title winners seeking glory on American soil. Europe’s Albin Ouschan, brother of women’s star Jasmin and rising star on the EuroTour, joins England’s Chris Melling in the title hunt. American hopes settle on Corey Deuel, who dropped a Thursday night set to Jayson Shaw, and five-time titlist Strickland.

Mosconi Cup: Wiley to Lead U.S.

Wiley will lead an underdog Team USA into hostile territory.

Wiley will lead an underdog Team USA into hostile territory.

Matchroom Sport distributed this press release on Sunday, Oct. 14:

FOLLOWING A 16-year absence from the event, winning 1996 Mosconi Cup player/captain CJ Wiley returns to London this December as skipper of the American team at PartyPoker.com Mosconi Cup. The 47-year-old Wiley from Texas was in charge of the side in London in 1996 and had the honor of potting the winning 9 ball in a 15-13 victory.

After a highly decorated spell at the top, including winning the ESPN World Championship, Wiley wound down his career in the 2000s, choosing to focus on a successful business career. He’s now back — and will be facing one of the toughest challenges of his career as he attempts to rally his side and turn their recent Mosconi Cup fortunes around.

“It’s an honor to be chosen to represent the USA team as captain in 2012,” said Wiley.

“I have been honored with the Player of the Year award and won major championships; however, being chosen to represent my country and its best players in the Mosconi Cup is something I value as an even greater personal accomplishment,” he said. “I know that the European team has dominated us over the past 6 years and I know it’s going to be especially challenging to go into York Hall in front of a highly enthusiastic home crowd and win the Mosconi Cup.

“This year however, is going to be different. The USA team will be young, ambitious and hungry for this victory. I, as captain, will make sure they are all on top of their games both mentally and physically. This is more than just a pocket billiards match; this is for patriotic pride. This is for the right to say we are the champions and take the Mosconi Cup back to America, where it belongs.”

Big Changes at IPT: Tour to Be Sold, London Event Cancelled

The future of the fledgling, multimillion-dollar International Pool Tour was cast in a new light on Saturday by the surprising news that tour founder Kevin Trudeau had entered into an agreement to sell the tour, and that the IPT Players 8-Ball Championship, scheduled for Oct. 22-29, had been cancelled.

Both announcements came during the players’ meeting Saturday for the IPT’s World 8-Ball Open Championship, set for Sept. 3-10 at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nev.

According to an IPT release, the IPT has agreed to a purchase by Ho Interactive, a new company started by casino owner billionaire Stanley Ho, who also owns online gambling site www.hocasino.com. IPT founder Trudeau told the crowd of 200 players that Ho Interactive will be taken public on the London exchange at some point in the near future.

The 84-year-old Ho is worth $6.5 billion, according to Forbes magazine’s 2006 list of the richest people in the world. The Hong Kong-based Ho controls virtually all casinos and gaming in Macau, a small Chinese territory off China’s southern coast.

Little was immediately known about the sale, or how it will affect the IPT’s plans for a 2007 season. BD will release new information as it becomes available.

The players also were informed that the London-based Players Championship was cancelled, due to problems in negotiations with The Excel, the intended host facility.

IPT Director Deno Andrews had told BD in the days leading up to the World 8-Ball Open event that cancellation of the event was a possibility, due to several reasons. They included the fear among some players of a terrorist attack, sparked by recent terrorist arrests in the U.K.; the trouble several international players were encountering obtaining visas for the U.K.; and conflicts in the programming schedule of EuroSport, the broadcast network that had planned to air some of the IPT matches live.

“At every juncture, we’ve had a problem with the London tournament,” Andrews told BD on Aug. 25.

Three more events are set on the IPT’s 2006 schedule: the Masters 8-Ball Championship, Nov. 26-Dec. 3 in Chicago; the King of the Hill Invitational 8-Ball Shootout, Dec. 12-17 in Las Vegas; and a simultaneous 2007 qualifying event, also set for Dec. 12-17 in Las Vegas.

At the players’ meeting, IPT members were promised a minimum of $13,000 for the 2006 season for every player who played in all the 2006 tournaments. Those whose total winnings were short of the figure would be written a check for the difference.

IPT World Open Preview: Talented Tots Wu and Ouschan to Debut

The big news in the first round of the International Pool Tour’s latest multi-million dollar 8-ball tournament will be the debuts of young superstars Chia-Ching Wu of Taiwan and Jasmin Ouschan of Austria, both looking for a big piece of the record-setting $3 million purse.

The eight-day 8-ball event — with a precedent-setting $500,000 first-place prize — kicks off Sunday, Sept. 3, at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nev.

Both 17-year-old Wu and 20-year-old Ouschan earned entry into the tournament through the IPT’s rugged qualifier process, and they’re expected to go deep. The precocious Wu is the current WPA world 9-ball and 8-ball champion, and Ouschan topped the star-studded field at the EnjoyPool.com 9-Ball Championship in May.

Otherwise, it looks like smooth sailing for most of the favorites in the first round of the International Pool Tour’s World 8-Ball Open Championship, as the just-released groupings reveal predominantly balanced matchups for the first two days of the event. Top-ranked players were seeded in the field.

Of course, a few players had cause for muttering under their breaths when the groups were announced early Friday. Of the best-known players, Hall-of-Famers and best buddies Ewa Laurance and Loree Jon Jones appear to have their work cut out for them. For that matter, the groupings did no favors for Ouschan, the only female player to have won a spot in an IPT field through the qualifier process.

Expect some surprises. As the players learned in the IPT’s first event of the 2006 season — the North American Open 8-Ball Championship in July — there are dozens of unheralded 8-ball whizzes out there waiting for their big shot, and the 200-player World field features 50 qualifiers who have already proved their mettle.

Look for surprising runs from several Asian qualifiers who now have their feet in the IPT’s door, including Wu from Taiwan (who was seeded 16th in the absence of Filipino Rodolfo Luat), and his countryman Hui-Kai Hsia, a two-time world juniors champion.

The first round will feature 40 groups of five players each. After round-robin play, the top three finishers in each group will proceed to the second round. Eliminated players from the first round will each receive a whopping $5,000.

The complete list of groupings is available at the IPT Web site: www.internationalpooltour.com.

Here are some of the more intriguing brackets from the first round:

Bracket 23 — BD Bloodbath Special: Spectators looking for an exciting bracket to follow should check out this group. No superstars, just tough and hungry veterans: Ivica Putnik (Croatia), Thomas Engert (Germany), Tony Chohan (USA), Tony Drago (Malta), and Zlatko Jakulj (Croatia)

Bracket 1: German sensation Thorsten Hohmann received the top seed by virtue of his $350,000 win at the North American Open, joined here by talented American Steve Moore, Filipino toughie Warren Kiamco, and Americans Jim Raney and Loree Jon Jones. Jones, who survived the first round at the North American Open, will have to bring her “A” game here.

Bracket 26: Austria’s Jasmin Ouschan must contend with Hall-of-Famer Earl Strickland, Swedish veteran Tom Storm, Aruba national champion Roland Acosta and American Pete Fusco. Ouschan regularly hones her skills against the best male players in Europe, so don’t expect her to be intimidated by Strickland, or anyone else in the field, for that matter,

Bracket 18: Hall-of-Famer Ewa Laurance will have her hands full with Australia’s Quinten Hann, the snooker bad boy who finished a surprising 18th at the North American Open; snooker ace Ronnie O’Sullivan from the U.K.; and Jeremy Jones (USA) and Jose Parica (Philippines), both experienced champions who met untimely exits at the North American Open. This bracket will be a dog fight.

Bracket 35: Future Hall-of-Famer Allison Fisher, who was undefeated in the first round of the North American Open, once again has a clean look at the second round. But watch out for qualifier Hui-Kai Hsia of Taiwan and surprising Frenchman Yannick Beaufils. Tough Americans Teddy Garrahan and John Ditoro round out the group, and neither will play patsy.

Bracket 10: Once again, 13-year-old Austin Murphy has a good shot at leaving the first round, this time sharing a bracket with 10th-ranked Darren Appleton (U.K.), Paul Potier (Canada), George San Souci (USA) and Ouahbi Amine (Morocco). Murphy missed the second round at the North American Open by a single rack, losing an 8-7 nailbiter to Danny Basavich. Let’s go, Austin.

You Guessed It: Filipinos Reign at First World Cup

The Filipino dream team of Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante became the inaugural PartyPoker.com World Cup of Pool champions as they blew away Team USA, 13-5, in front of a packed arena at the Newport Centre, South Wales.

The American duo of Earl Strickland and Rodney Morris were expected to make a match of it, but a combination of bad luck and loose shots on the part of the Americans and unrelenting skill from the Filipinos kept them at bay.

With upwards of 900 people in the arena including a large contingent of expatriate Filipinos, the atmosphere was electric and the tension mounted as the two teams shared the first eight racks of the race-to-13 final.

From there though things unraveled for the Americans. They lost control of the cue ball on the break and consequently found it difficult to get any momentum.

By contrast the Philippines turned up the heat with Reyes in particular playing a series of stunning shots to get out of jail and pot some seemingly impossible balls.

The second half of the match became something of a procession as the Philippines won seven consecutive racks to leave their opponents in no man’s land.

Team USA got one back to take the score to 11-5, but Reyes and Bustamante knocked off the final two racks to take the magnificent silver trophy, the title and a check for $60,000.

“It’s funny that every time there is a new big tournament, I win it, but all week I thought if we could get to the final we can win, said a delighted Efren Reyes after the match.

“The USA is a good team but they were unlucky and that made it easy for us,” he said.

Bustamante was thrilled to take pool’s first ever World Cup event. “In the beginning there was a lot of pressure on us but when we went three games ahead it all lifted,” he said.

“Efren played lots of unbelievable shots; some of them I’ve never seen in my life! That’s why we won.”

For the Americans, Rodney Morris summed up their feelings: “That was pretty disappointing. After 4-4 it didn’t go our way although the match was closer than the score suggested, but when it went to 7-4 we were both pretty deflated and felt it slipping away.”

“We never really got a clear shot off the break and it was a tough hill to climb but they played great – the way they were supposed to, so congratulations to them,” Morris added.