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Headstring News
Fat Lady Needed In Rotterdam
Dec 9, 2006, 10:38 AM

Team Europe still needs five match wins to wrest the Mosconi Cup from 10-time champion Team USA, but if Saturday afternoon’s results were any indication, the proverbial Fat Lady will be singing Sunday afternoon at the Cruise Terminal arena in Rotterdam, Holland.

Riding a wave of deafening crowd support, near-perfect 9-ball and a fractured opponent, the Euros rebounded from an opening-match loss to administer two critical and emphatic poundings on the favored Americans. The wins pushed Team Europe’s lead in the race-to-13 team 9-ball event to 8-4.

Needing to answer after falling behind 6-3 Friday, the U.S. sextet got off to a promising start Saturday when Corey Deuel and Mike Davis posted a sound 6-3 win over Dutchman Nick van den Berg and Brit Imrad Majid.

Needing to maintain momentum, the U.S. sent out its almost unbeatable pairing of Rodney Morris and Earl Strickland. After bringing a 6-0 record in Mosconi Cup doubles play into the 2006 event, Morris and Strickland lost Friday afternoon. On Saturday the duo fared no better against Finland’s Mika Immonen and Spaniard David Alcaide. Flu-ridden Morris was clearly not playing his best, and Strickland stepped up his annual battle with European fans, criticizing and cussing them whenever provoked. And when Strickland scratched on the break with the U.S. trailing 5-4, the crowd erupted in cheers. As Immonen approached the table, Morris began collecting his cues in concession. But when he put the cues back at the request of referee Michaela Tabb, Immonen shot Morris an icy stare. An unapologetic Morris told Immonen he had been instructed to do so, then added, “And if you look at me again, there’s going to be a problem.”

The Euro pair indeed cleaned up the remaining rack, with Immonen dancing into position for the final shot.

Desperately needing a win in the final match of the afternoon, Team USA instead saw its captain, Johnny Archer, and first-timer John Schmidt get run over by German teammates Ralf Souquet and Thomas Engert, 6-1. Souquet, clearly Europe’s best player thus far, played flawlessly, never missing a shot or position, and pocketing a rail-first kick in the final rack.

Play resumes Saturday night with a trio of singles matches, with both Morris and Strickland slated to play for the Americans.