Chinese Billiard Team Wipes the Smile off the Japanese Faces

Chinese Billiard Team Wipes the Smile off the Japanese Faces
The Chinese billiards team will meet Finland in the final of the 2007 World Cup of Pool. The eighth seeded Chinese team of Fu Jian-bo and Li He-wen beat Japan’s Naoyuki Oi and Satoshu Kawabata 9-4 at the Outland Nightclub in Rotterdam, Holland.
China had reached the final four after defeating South Africa, France and then the defending champions Philippines in a memorable quarter-final on Saturday evening. The hugely-popular Japanese side, who had smiled and joked their way to wins over Spain, Holland A and Singapore, had been unseeded but performed well to make the semi-finals.
China won the lag by the narrowest of margins and then ran out the opening two racks as Japan were rooted firmly in their seats.
The Japanese should have won the next rack as they got back to the table but Naoyuki Oi dogged a simple-looking 9-ball. However, Fu Jian-bo also missed the same ball, before Satoshi Kawabata did likewise. It was left to Li He-wen, a semi-finalist in the 2006 World Championships to down the 9-ball for 3-0 to China.
But the same player scratched in the fourth as Japan recorded their first rack of the match. The scoreline should have narrowed to 3-2 after Fu scratched but Kawabata did the same with only the 9-ball left on the table.
China gratefully accepted the present for 4-1 and ran out the next to give them a 5-1 lead in this race to nine. The missed 9-ball from Japan in the fifth was proving costly as they had not had a shot since and China ran out once more in the seventh for 6-1.
The Japanese side had an opportunity in the eighth after Fu Jian-bo had produced a tight safety but Oi failed to connect with any ball on the table to give another ball-in-hand to the Chinese and they made it 7-1.
Throughout the tournament there had been a number of close matches but both semi-finals were proving to be one-sided affairs after Finland thrashed Canada 9-0 in the other semi-final.
It had been a near-faultless performance from the Chinese pair but that ended in the ninth as Li He-wen failed to pocket the 2-ball. Japan had to keep the China team in their chairs and managed it for this rack for 7-2.
Japan ran out the tenth and with the score now moving to 7-3 the crowd were hopeful of this being the start of a magnificent fightback.
Oi and Kawabata were not giving up and a fine shot from Oi, who rolled the 2-ball down the right hand rail, set up another Japanese rack, their third in a row for 7-4.
Just when it seemed Japan would get back in the match, Kawabata missed a bank attempt on the 2-ball, which was left hanging over the bottom left pocket and that was looking like being their last shot of the match.
China sealed the job in the 12th rack and moved to the hill at 8-4. Fu was unsuccessful when trying to pot the 2-ball but Japan did the same and that was it. The game was as good as over as China won 9-4 to set up a final with Finland.