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Ruijsink to Coach U.S.

Ruijsink will switch jerseys for the Mosconi Cup.

In a move that was met with mixed reviews, Mosconi Cup promoter Matchroom Sport announced Holland’s Johan Ruijsink as 2017 captain for Team USA. The 50-year-old Ruijsink is well known in Mosconi Cup annals as the undefeated captain for Team Europe, having led the squad seven times between 2006 and 2014. Ruijsink voluntarily stepped down as Team Europe after the 2014 event, in part citing the lack of a challenge in leading the European team.

Ruijsink replaces Mark Wilson, who helmed the U.S. squad for three years, coming closest to victory in 2015, when the U.S. lost, 11-7.

With Team USA posting just one win in the last 11 Mosconi Cups, Matchroom said it was seeking a game-changer to “revive America’s flagging fortunes,” even if it meant appointing a European coach.

The announcement caught many American players and fans by surprise. Numerous posts on social media decried the decision as “an insult to the Americans,” while others applauded the selection as America’s “best chance” to become competitive again.

“The reason to take on this job is quite obvious,” Ruijsink commented in the Matchroom release. “I am an authentic lover of the game and especially of the Mosconi Cup. In 25 years of coaching, the Mosconi Cup has proven to be by far the most exciting event in the world of pool.

“As a coach in pool, there is no higher goal then working in the ‘home of pool,’ the U.S.A. My entire coaching career has been founded on seeing the American players compete at the World Championships in Bergheim, Germany, in 1990. There I saw Earl, Varner, Davenport, Mizerak, Mataya, Lebron and a young Johnny Archer, and they made me love the game even more.”

Ruijsink is credited with coaching Holland into a pool powerhouse, mentoring stars like Alex Lely, Niels Feijen and Rico Diks in the ’90s and early 2000s. In recent years, he has been coaching in Russia, developing a talented crop of players, including recent World Pool Series champion Ruslan Chinahov.

“I was shocked at first,” said American Justin Bergman, who has played on the last three U.S. squads. “But I don’t think it’s a horrible idea from a player’s view, since he probably has good ideas and he’s a knowledgeable coach. I think we should all support him.”

“I think it’s good, since he was so huge for Europe’s team,” echoed Skyler Woodward, Team USA’s best player over the past two Mosconi Cups.

According to Matchroom, Ruijsink will get to hand pick his five-player team, so long as each player is ranked in the top 10 in Mosconi Cup points in 2017. Additionally, Ruijsink plans to travel to the U.S. several times during the year to meet with and observe potential team members.

Ruijsink’s first decision was selecting Archer as his vice-captian.

Archer is the Champion of Champions

In the final of this year’s winner-take-all $50,000 International Challenge of the Champions, the 2 ball created cartoon-like hijinks, running and hiding from competitors Thorsten Hohmann and Johnny Archer.

Archer eventually put that 2 ball in its place: the pocket, in the single-game tiebreaker, and ran out for the valuable victory.

Archer started the day on Thursday with a match against Marlon Manalo. Manalo took the first set, 5-3, but Archer fought back and won the second set, 5-1, to force a single-game tiebreaker. Archer had been in this same position on Wednesday when he won the lag and proceeded to break and run the tie-breaker rack to eliminate Alex Lely. Once again, Archer won the lag and went on to break and run the single rack to eliminate Manalo and earn Archer a spot in the finals.

Archer’s opponent in the finals was IPT North American Open 8-Ball Champion Hohmann. Hohmann defeated defending champion Fong Pang Chao, 5-1 and 5-3, to earn his spot in the finals.

Hohmann came out strong in the finals against Archer and won the first set, 5-2. The next set was all-Archer as he came back and won the set, 5-1, to force yet another single game tie-breaker to determine the final winner.

Once again, Archer won the lag and made the 1 ball on the break, but the 2 ball began its hide-and-seek game. Archer could only see part of it, so he opted to push and Hohmann played him safe on the 2. Archer took an intentional foul on the, knowing that it was not playable even with ball in hand and Hohmann played another safe on the 2. Archer took on a tough shot that had him elevating his cue and trying to bank the 2 ball into a ball that was near a pocket but was not successful. Fortunately for him, Hohmann found himself dead hooked on the 2 after the balls stopped rolling. Hohmann failed to contact the 2 ball and Archer maneuvered his way through the final rack for the tournament win and $50,000 in prize money.

By Day’s End, One Champion Will Remain at the International Challenge

Day one of the 2006 International Challenge of Champions is complete and the field of eight players has been sliced in half.

Among the elite, international players, every game in the best-of-three matches carried great importance. In the first match of the day, Johnny Archer defeated Alex Lely in a one-game tie breaker to advance.

The second match saw IPT North American 8-Ball Champion Thorsten Hohmann defeat Santos Sambajon, 5-2 and 5-3, to earn his spot in the next round.

The third match of the day featured another single game tie-breaker, as Marlon Manalo came back from a 5-2 loss in the first set and won the second set, 5-2, and then won the tie breaker to eliminate Niels Feijen.

The final match of the day saw defending champion Fong Pang Chao defeat German Ralf Souquet, 5-1 and 5-4, to advance to today’s play.

The match-ups for today should make for an intense climate in the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. The first match will feature Archer vs. Manalo at 5 p.m. EST and Hohmann vs. Chao at 6:30 p.m. EST. The winners of those two matches will face each other in the finals at 8 p.m. EST where the winner will pocket $50,000 in this winner-take-all event.

International Challenge of Champions: Bracket’s Up, Rack It Up!

The bracket is drawn for the 2006 International Challenge of Champions and the eight competitors are assessing their chances for the $50,000 first prize.

First round matches begin today, Aug. 9, at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. The first match of the day will take place at 4 p.m. EST as Johnny Archer faces Alex Lely of the Netherlands.

At 5 p.m., IPT North American 8-Ball Champion Thorsten Hohmann will battle 2005 Skins Champion Santos Sambajon.

In the third match of the day at 7 p.m., North American 8-Ball Championship runner-up Marlon Manalo will face ‘The Terminator’ Neils Feijen. Today’s matches will conclude with reigning champion Fong Pang Chao taking on German superstar Ralf Souquet.

IPT Round Three Complete

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Despite some strong opposition from European players, including the surprising contingent of English 8-ballers, the always tough Filipinos are dominating the history-making IPT North American 8-Ball Open.

Virtually every Filipino competitor who started in the 200-player field has made it through to the 36-man fourth round of play – nine altogether, including three Pinoy hopefuls who needed to win qualifiers to gain entry to the $2 million tournament.

Leading the pack, as usual, was legendary Efren “Bata” Reyes, whose overall record stood at 12-1 after three days of round-robin play. No less impressive was the ball-control mastery of Filipino Marlon Manalo, who held an identical 12-1 record, along with Germany’s Ralf Souquet and Rafael Martinez of Mexico.

Third-round play began on Wednesday at the Venetian Hotel and Casino with the remaining 60 players divied into 12 groups of five. The top three in each group would advance to the fourth round on Thursday with a guarantee of at least $17,000 in prize money; the eliminated players would collect a still-impressive $10,000 each.

By 9:45 p.m., the lucky 36 were known. Their names follow, grouped by country, with their third-round records:

USA: Dee Adkins, 4-0; Jason Kirkwood, 3-1; Earl Strickland, 3-1; Cory Deuel, 4-0; Shawn Putnam, 3-1; Rodney Morris, 3-1; Larry Nevel, 3-1; Gabe Owen, 2-2; and David Matlock, 2-2.

Philippines: Efren Reyes, 4-0; Marlon Manalo, 4-0; Francisco Bustamante, 2-2; Dennis Orcollo, 3-1; Antonio Lining, 4-0; Rodolfo Luat, 2-2; Alex Pagulayan, 3-1; Santos Sambajon, 2-2; and Ronato Alcano, 2-2.

United Kingdom: Rico Diks, 2-2; Raj Hundal, 1-3; Daryl Peach, 2-2; Darren Appleton, 2-2; Mick Hill, 3-1.

Netherlands: Niels Feijen, 3-1; Alex Lely, 3-1; and Nick Van den Berg, 3-1.

Germany: Ralf Souquet, 4-0; and Thorsten Hohmann, 3-1.

Other countries: Quinten Hann (Australia), 2-2; Ivica Putnik (Croatia), 2-2; Mika Immonen (Finland), 3-1; Sandor Tot (Italy), 2-2; Yannick Beaufils (France), 2-2; Rafael Martinez (Mexico), 4-0; Evgeny Stalev (Russia), 2-2; and Marcus Chamat (Sweden), 3-1.

Here are some highlights from the round:

* The biggest eye-opener for many established players at the Open has been the success of the top competitors on the English 8-ball circuit, including perennial champions Mick Hill and Darren Appleton. Both will compete in the round-of-36.

“Us lads have come to play the top players from around the world, and I feel that we haven’t been given a chance,” said 26-year-old Hill. “The point that us English lads want to get across to everyone, including our own back home, is that we’re playing 8-ball, not 9-ball or straight-pool. … A lot of people don’t realize that the English players play 8-ball.”

Among their strengths are excellent cue ball control and solid stroke mechanics, said observers.

“Those guys shoot very straight, and I can respect that,” said IPT member Ike Runnels.

* Fifteen women started the competition on Sunday, and only former snooker stars Allison Fisher and Karen Corr were given much of a chance to advance. One woman was able to infiltrate the third round, and she was a U.K. native, but no one you might expect.

“I sort of in a way proved a point,” said Sarah Ellerby, who collected dozens of 8-ball titles in England before coming to the U.S. to compete on the WPBA Classic Tour. “…There wasn’t as much attention on me as on the other girls, and that’s fine.

“I’m sure that some of the guys were like, ‘The women won’t do well here,’” Ellerby said. “If I could break better, I feel like I could really make more of a dent. I think the women are capable enough to come here and do well.”

Unfortunately, Ellerby fell into a tough bracket in the third round and finished with a 1-3 record. Knowing she wouldn’t advance, Ellerby immediately left for the Las Vegas airport to catch an 11:30 p.m. United Airlines flight to Chicago. There, she would catch a limo for a two-hour drive to Peoria, the site of the WPBA Midwest Classic, which was starting play Thursday morning.

“I’m going to be very tired,” she said.

* Staying on the English for another moment, sharp observers might note that Raj Hundal advanced with a 1-3 record. It’s no misprint. Hundal was in a bracket with players who posted 4-0 and 3-1 records (Reyes and Strickland), leaving the other three players with 1-3 tallies. Of the three, Hundal had the highest games-won percentage (56.49 percent, just over American Gary Abood’s 55.09 percent), which pushed him into the next round. That 1.4 percent difference was worth at least $7,000.

“I’m in! I’m in!” the burly Hundal screamed upon hearing the results. “I’m freewheeling tomorrow! … I’m the luckiest [expletive] in the world!”

* Another surprise at the end of the day was how many players who were forced to qualify for the event ended up in the round-of-36. The 200-player field offered 50 qualifiers, and no fewer than nine made it into the fourth round. They included Filipinos Luat, Sambajon and Alcano.

* Most of the favorites remained in the running for the fourth round, with one major exception. American Johnny Archer faded in his bracket, finishing with a 1-3 record.

Who Will Rule Pool?

The World Pool Masters are underway at the Hotel Zuiderduin in Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands, with 16 male players vying for wold dominance in straight-knockout, single-elimination 9-ball.

Of the 16 players, nine are Europeans: Nick van den Berg, Alex Lely and Neils Feijen of Holland, Thomas Engert and Ralf Souquet of Germany, and Ronnie O’Sullivan, Steve Davis, Imran Majid and Raj Hundal of England. The remainder of the field was filled out by Wu Chia-ching of the Chinese Taipei, Hiroshi Takenaka of Japan, Efren Reyes and Alex Pagulayan of the Philippines and Rodney Morris as the lone American.

The first-round began today (June 16) and so far, defending champion Hundal eliminated Hiroshi Takenaka, 8-5, while Feijen sent Morris packing, 8-3. Feijin’s win will put him in the quarterfinal with Hundal on Saturday evening.

Morris, who reached the final of last year’s event, said: “I felt good but with the alternate-break format I couldn’t come back when I went down a couple of games.”

Meanwhile, Foldes nabbed a nail-biter match against van den Berg, 7-8. The back-and-forth match was at hill-hill when Foldes broke and ran out for the win, much to the dismay of the Dutch crowd.

“I’m delighted to have won. It was a very tough game and either of us could have won it but in the end I kept it together to clear that last rack for victory,” Foldes said afterwards.

Team USA Puts the Hammer Down

Team USA captain Johnny Archer couldn’t wait for the action to commence on Day Three of the 2005 Mosconi Cup in Las Vegas. With his team holding a 6-4 lead in the 12th annual edition of the transatlantic 9-ball clash, Archer knew he could stack his line-up for the three doubles and two singles matches.

The only Americans who had yet to play singles were heavy-hitters Rodney Morris and Earl Strickland. They would be matched up against Holland’s Alex Lely and Sweden’s Marcus Chamat, the only Euros who’d yet to see singles action.

“We set today’s line-up to sweep all five matches and end this tournament right now,” Archer said of the race-to-11 format. “As long as we were ahead during the first two days, I wanted to save Rodney and Earl for today. And I could put them in the doubles match between their two singles matches. The Europeans will have to face them three matches in a row. Then, we’ll close the day with me and Jeremy (Jones). We’re going for the kill.”

Archer’s plan almost worked to perfection, as Team USA , despite dropping the first match of the day, rolled to four wins and now teeter on the brink of their 10th Mosconi Cup title in the 12-year history of the event.

Having lost five of the first six doubles matches, Team Europe juggled its pairings for Saturday’s action. Captain Mika Immonen of Finland paired the Dutch duo of Alex Lely and Neils Feijen, and placed newcomer Raj Hundal of England with Germany’s Thorsten Hohmann.

The move paid immediate dividends when Lely and Feijen topped the American duo of Charlie Williams and Shawn Putnam, 5-3, to narrow the US’s overall lead to a single match, 6-5.

Things continued to look promising for the Euros when Lely, playing flawlessly after a shaky opening day, opened a 3-1 lead over Morris. But a positional error and miss allowed Morris to tie the match at 3-3, and a scratch on the break when leading 4-3 signaled Lely’s last trip to the table. Morris cleaned up that rack, and ran out from the break for a 5-4 win to give the US another two-match cushion.

From there, the US floodgates opened. Strickland and Morris continued their unbeaten streak as teammates with a convincing 5-2 beating of Immonen and Chamat, and Strickland raced through a 5-2 pounding of Chamat in singles. The team of Archer and Jones then pushed the US to the hill with a solid 5-3 win over Hundal and Hohmann.
The final day of the Mosconi Cup will consist solely of single matches, with the US needing just one win to secure the trophy.

A Day On The HIll At Mosconi Cup

On a day filled with tight matches, Team USA gained a two-match lead over Team Europe, 6-4, Friday at the 12th Annual Mosconi Cup in Las Vegas, although both squads will likely spend a restless night reliving missed opportunities that could have impacted the match score.

Bucking the trend of previous Mosconi Cups, Team USA won all three of its doubles matches on Day Two of the race-to-11 transatlantic 9-ball clash, while dropping both of its singles contests. And in both instances, American players all but handed the match to their Euro counterparts. Shawn Putnam, fresh off an opening match doubles win, squandered numerous opportunities and a 3-0 lead in dropping a 5-4 match to England’s Raj Hundal. And Jeremy Jones, coming off a doubles win with US captain Johnny Archer, bungled his way out of four elementary run-outs in a heartbreaking 5-4 loss to Germany’s Thorsten Hohmann.

But the Americans swept through doubles play, with Putnam and Charlie Williams besting Hohmann and Holland’s Neils Feijen, and Jones and Archer topping Euro captain Mika Immonen and Sweden’s Marcus Chamat by identical 5-4 margins.

In the day’s final match, Earl Strickland played the perfect gentleman with partner Rodney Morris in a convincing 5-2 win over Hundal and Holland’s Alex Lely. The Euros held an early 2-0 advantage, and threatened in game three, before a miss by Lely opened the floodgates for a five-rack US assault.

Strickland, who had battled fans during his Day One match, and unleashed an expletive-laced barrage during a live on-air interview, explained his change of heart.

“I need to stay more under control,” Strickland said after the match. “Because my emotions hurt my teammate. But I just think every player here deserves equal respect when they’re playing. These are the best players in the world.

“But I’ll tell you,” he added, “There will never be another one of me. I guess that’s why I’m always introduced as ‘The One and Only,'”

Comeback, Blowup Highlight Mosconi Day One!

After dropping the opening two matches on the first day of the 2005 Mosconi Cup, Team USA charged back with three consecutive wins, highlighted by a contentious 5-4 doubles victory, to earn a 3-2 lead at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The transatlantic team event features two new twists for 2005, a 30-second shot clock and alternating singles-doubles matches. Because the event is carried live throughout the United Kingdom on Sky Sports, the format features one five-hour block of matches each day. The shortened TV window forced promoter Matchroom Sport to cut the 2005 Mosconi to a race to 11. To assure each player opportunities for singles play, Matchroom is running a three doubles matches, with two singles matches sandwiched in between.

The event opened with Thorsten Hohmann of Germany and Neils Feijen of Holland thumping the American duo of captain Johnny Archer and Jeremy Jones, 5-1. Euro captain Mika Immonen then beat Archer in singles, 5-2, to give Europe a quick 2-0 match lead.

But the Americans stormed back with Cup newcomer Shawn Putnam and Charlie Williams bouncing 24-year-old Raj Hundal of England and Alex Lely of Holland, 5-3. Williams, not traditionally a strong performer in the Mosconi Cup, continued his powerful Day One performance with a convincing 5-3 singles win over Feijen to draw the Americans even, 2-2.

As if scripted, the day’s finale, pitting the U.S. duo of Earl Strickland and Rodney Morris (unbeaten in 2004) against Immonen and Sweden’s Marcus Chamat, evolved into drama-filled cat fight. The Americans free-wheeled to a 4-0 lead, then withstood a furious Euro rally that knotted the match at 4-4. During the match, the pro-Euro and pro-American fans took turns pushing the good-taste envelope, and Strickland got into one of his patented verbal sparring matches with several fans.

The Euro pair had a chance to complete the comeback, but found themselves hooked shooting at the 5 ball. With their extensions used up (each team is allowed two per rack), Chamat appeared to foul by not attempting his shot before the clock expired. Referee Micheala Tabb awarded the Euros a second chance after ruling that the clock had not given Chamat fair warning. Chamat fouled on his attempt, and the Americans ran out to earn the 5-4 win and a 3-2 match lead at the close of action.

In the post-match interview, aired live in the U.K., Strickland berated the European fans and engaged in a profanity-laced exchange with a female fan in the crowd.

With that, the 2005 Mosconi Cup was off and running. Play will continue Friday with another round of three doubles and two singles matches. For more information on the day’s action, log on to MosconiCup.com

Team Europe Gunning for USA at Mosconi Cup

One of the strongest European teams in years believes that it can dethrone Team USA at the 2005 Mosconi Cup, set to kick off Thursday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev.

The four-day international pool tilt will pit Americans Johnny Archer, Rodney Morris, Shawn Putnam, Jeremy Jones, Earl Strickland and Charlie Williams against a stacked European squad, featuring Mika Immonen, Niels Feijen, Thorsten Hohmann, Raj Hundal, Marcus Chamat and Alex Lely.

The Americans have won nine of the 11 previous Cups, including a 12-9 victory in 2004.

BD Publisher Mike Panozzo notes that, in previous years, Team Europe has been somewhat handicapped by the inclusion of snooker stars and unproven United Kingdom 9-ballers, often included to boost interest and television ratings in the U.K., home of tournament producer Matchroom Sports and primary TV partner Sky Sports. Team Europe has no such hindrances in 2005, and has, in fact, pieced together its most talented squad ever.

However, Panozzo has still picked the USA to win the event this year (and in the process has set off a firestorm of controversy in online chat rooms), based on its overall talent, experience and sense of entitlement.

For up-to-the-minute updates on Mosconi Cup action, go to the event’s Web site at www.mosconicup.com.