The Philippines created World Cup of Pool history by claiming a record fourth title beating Germany, 11-7, at Pazo de Feiras e Congresos de Lugo, Spain.
From the outset, a meeting of two powerhouses of Nineball was always going to deliver drama and there was no let up from the start in a rematch of the 2009 World Cup of Pool final where it was the Philippines who came out on top.
Germany’s Joshua Filler alongside Moritz Neuhausen was tasked with taking down the powerful Pinoy duo of Johann Chua and James Aranas and they had the initial upper hand by winning the lag. Despite that, it was the Philippines who took the opening rack after Filler scratched from the break whilst the second rack swung the other way after Aranas missed the nine. A brilliant break and run out in the third put Germany ahead. The Philippines hit back in the fourth after a loose Filler safety put them in to clear the table from the two.
Aranas and Chua put their nation back in front in the fifth rack after Neuhausen was forced to go airborne to find any contact on the two at 3-2.
The Philippines were gathering momentum in the contest and ramped up to a 5-2 lead after a costly foul from Germany gave the former ball in hand to extend their advantage and be six racks away from victory. A break and run in the following took the Philippines over the halfway stage toward victory. As in the previous two matches, the Philippines were doing all the early running and they built on their lead to 7-2, it was a magnificent showing of cueing.
Chua was incredible and Aranas was sublime as the lead extended to 8-2 after one of the shots of the match from Bad Koi Chua saw him draw back from the three to perfect position to aid the break and run, another one on their tally. Germany had their chance in the 11th rack but Filler fluffed his lines on a rare occasion which allowed Aranas in for the 6-9 combo to be two away from victory.
A rare slip from the Philippines in the 12th rack allowed Germany back in but it was still 9-3, a long way to go for the Europeans. The distance was soon narrowing by the rack as Germany built up momentum to pull things to 9-6 after 15 racks, it was indeed the case of history repeating itself for the Philippines who had already gone through back-to-back matches that ended up going the distance from strong winning positions.
At 9-7, Germany pushed out from the break and it proved to be decisive as the Philippines ran out to reach the hill first. In what was the final rack of the tournament, the Philippines made a brilliant safety which meant Germany made a deliberate foul hoping that Aranas and Chua would not make the two but with the way the pair were playing, it was calling all pockets as the Philippines closed out a historic performance following in the footsteps of Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante.
Chua said: “I feel great. It feels amazing to win a world title. It’s such an honour to win with James. We’ve known each other since we were 13 years old. We went to school together. To win with him is amazing. This has always been our dream. It’s a special achievement to win the World Cup of Pool. I am aggressive at the table. I cannot sleep if I do not approach it like that. It’s my first achievement at this sort of prestigious event. It’s my first world title. “
Aranas started the week with no cues having been lost in transit but felt it was a sign of better things to come: “For me, I have so many memories, it’s so exciting. This week is unforgettable, spending this moment with Johann too. My cues arrived right on time because they didn’t arrive for the Spanish Open. I want to thank my friends and family and all the Filipinos back home. Without my family, I would not be here.”
Filler said: “It was a tough final. They were breaking better. I said to Moritz we still have to believe. Aranas played a crazy two ball and after that all in all they played better and deserved to win.”
(Photo courtesy of Matchroom Pool)