By: Markus Noé
Shane Van Boening (SVB) and Darren Appleton kicked off the final session of the Mosconi Cup today. At 9-5 for Team Europe this was an interesting match because it really was a must win for Team U.S.A. What added to the intrigue was that SVB was scheduled to play the first two matches which is a rarity, because the rule is generally no player can play back to back matches. Things were different today as the first match was originally scheduled to be the the last match in yesterdays session. Because of time constraints it was pushed to today allowing SVB, America's top player, a chance to win the first two matches of the day and attempt to get his team back in this event.
At 1-1 both players had successfully broke and ran out their first games. In the second rack, safety play was needed and after a few exchanges Appleton won. The big momentum shift in this set was in the fourth rack when SVB attempted a safe shot which he executed well but unfortunately unintentionally potted the 2 ball. This left him above the 5 ball with the 4 ball up table glued to the top rail. This resulted in a failed safety attempt that turned into ball in hand and Appleton took full advantage pushing the lead to 3-1 and never looked back winning the set 5-1.
The final match was Shane Van Boening vs Nick Ekonomopoulos. Ekonomopoulos started with a perfect break and run, while SVB needed some safety play to secure his first point. Europe pulled ahead 2-1 and in the next rack a rare bad break by SVB lead to a self imposed hook shot which again forced ball in hand costing him the rack. SVB was able to "break serve" in the next rack winning a game off Ekonomopoulos's break.
SVB had a glorious chance in the next rack to tie the match up at 3-3 however he missed an open 6 ball. Ekonomopoulos jumped out of his chair and looked to make quick work of the remaining balls but missed shape on the 8 ball. He attempted to cut it in the corner however hit it so thin he almost played safe unintentionally. With a tough shot on the 8 ball, SVB was unable to get good shape on the 9 ball and missed a tough cut shot to go down 4-2. In the final rack of the Mosconi Cup, Ekonomopoulos broke in 3 balls leaving six wide open balls for the win, which he completed with ease to win the match and the Mosconi Cup once again for Team Europe.
Once the initial celebrations were done it was time to give out the individual awards. In a heart warming moment Darren Appleton took the microphone and announced to the world that their beloved coach Joan Ruysink was retiring from the team. In honour of this they made an award for him called the Most Valuable Team Captain.
In a bit of a surprise Nick Ekonomopoulos who won 5 matches including the Cup winning match, was overlooked for MVP. It was given to current World Champion Niels Feijin. In all fairness with such a stacked team any one of these players could have gotten this award.
In the end this is a big disappointment for Team U.S.A as this year they were supposed to be more competitive. Yes, 11-5 is better than 11-2, but this still falls very short of their hopes and for being truly competitive. As mentioned in yesterdays update, the Europeans did not look like their indestructible selves from years past at times. It was poor performances by veterans Corey Deuel, John Schmidt as well as SVB going 0-7 in the event which proved to be too much to overcome.
On a positive side rookies Justin Hall and Justin Bergman had solid events and it leaves hope for the coming years. The majority of the team looked to be unable to handle the immense pressure that the crowd brings to this event. As early picks for next years team I would like to see Hall, Bergman, SVB remain and have passion filled players who live for these type of moments like Dennis Hatch and Rodney Morris be added.
The Americans in my opinion really need to find a way to win one in the next year or two for this event to stay relevant. To put things in perspective they have been beaten 22-7 during the past two years alone. Congratulations to Team Europe, the next big international event we are covering here at Cue Sport Nation will be the Pacman Cup, so check in next week for results.