MANILA, Philippines - The American pair of Shane Van Boening and Rodney Morris and the Taiwanese tandem of Han En Hsu and Hsin Ting Chen squeezed through in a pair of nerve-wracking hill-hill duels to make the Last Four of the 2012 PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool at the Robinsons Ermita Midtown Activity Center last night.
Van Boening and Morris, the 2008 champs, avoided what could have been a big heartbreaker, nearly squandering an 8-2 lead before pouncing on a giant break in the most opportune time to salvage a 9-8 squeaker over former two-time winners Li He We and Liu Haitao of China.
Han and Hsin, both WCP first timers, sustained their incredible run, pulling off their own 9-8 thriller of a win over the fancied English duo of Darren Appleton and Chris Melling.
The Americans advanced to the semis in the upper bracket versus either the Philippines’ Efren Reyes-Francisco Bustamante pair or the Finnish team of Mikka Immonen and Petri Makkonen while the Taiwanese booked a semis battle against either the Poles or the Italians.
Van Boening and Morris salvaged a semis spot as the Chinese encountered a shocker in the sudden death with Li scratching the cue ball with three easy shots to complete an amazing rally.
“We got lucky there at the end,” said Morris as they survived and stayed in the running for the $60,000 top prize in this blue-ribbon pool event.
“But if you look back, they got really lucky too when they were coming back. So these things even out,” Morris also said.
“It’s awesome because all we have to do is win two more matches and we win the World Cup of Pool. We have to work on the break. We’re playing good pool but we have to figure out the break,” said Van Boening.
The Chinese stunned their rivals and gallery in stringing up six straight racks to get into the match.
A big shocker, though, was how they lost the won match.
The Taiwanese pulled through as the Englishmen left them with an opening at 7-8.
After forcing the sudden death, Han knocked down two balls on the break with Hsin having a long shot at 2-ball which he nailed.
The two played cool and smart to the finish, taking the match to give Chinese Taipei a third straight semifinals stint in the annual event.