A tournament pitting the best players of Europe & USA (Team West) against the champions of Asia is finally happening. The inaugural Kings Cup tournament gets underway on Thursday at the Resorts World Manila.
This three-day tournament, produced by Dragon Promotions, features singles, doubles, triples, and four-on-four 10-ball matches. All matches are race to 5. Each day, there will be six matches played and the first team that reaches 10 wins takes home the title. If the score reaches 9-9 on day 3, a final four-on-four game will be played to decide the champions.
Team Asia is spearheaded by Efren “Bata” Reyes, who is widely considered as the greatest billiards player of all time. His compatriot Francisco “Django” Bustamante joins him together with the Ko brothers from Taiwan, Pin Yi and Ping Chung.
Mika “Iceman” Immonen is the captain of Team West and he is joined by Shane Van Boening (USA), Darren Appleton (England) and Albin Ouschan (Austria).
Both teams are equally excited to play in this unique tournament format. For Immonen, he feels quite different as he gets to play with teammates whom he usually faces in other tournaments. But he stressed the best thing about his team is that they all speak English thus communication wouldn’t be a problem for them.
For veterans Reyes and Bustamante, playing at home definitely is an advantage but admits they still feel the pressure. “Kahit naman noong araw pa may pressure na dumaraan sa amin. Lalo na ngayon naakatakot ang mga kalaban namin” (Even before, I still feel the pressure. Especially now we’re up against tough opponents) says Reyes. “Pero kapag nag-init na, nawawala na rin ang nerbiyos” (But once things heat up, pressure subsides) he added. Bustamante couldn’t agree more. Django further emphasizes the need to have a good start to somehow ease the pressure. “Talagang nakakanerbiyos ang una. Pero kapag nakalamang na kami, nawawala yun kaba.” (First part is always scary. But once we take the lead early, pressure dies down) says Bustamante. “Pero kapag dikit ang laban, diyan lalabas na ang mga arthritis namin saka yun mga nginig namin. Kaya dapat makauna kami para gumanda yun mga tira namin” (But once the score is close, we get to feel our arthritis and jitters. That’s why it’s important that we play well early to get our confidence going) he added.
On the first day, everyone gets to play right away with a four-on-four match. A doubles match will follow between Van Boening & Immonen against the Ko brothers. In what could be the highlight match of Day 1, Reyes & Bustamante team up as they go against Appleton & Ouschan in the third game. Games 4 and 5 are singles matches between Appleton versus Ko Pin Yi and Van Boening against Bustamante. Last match of the evening is a triples match featuring Ouschan, Van Boening, and Immonen against Reyes, Ko Pin Yi and Ko Ping Chung.