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Team Europe Reaches The Hill
by Mason King Dec 16, 2007, 5:19 PM EST

Tony Drago, the free-wheeling former snooker pro took advantage of multiple errors by Team USA’s Johnny Archer to score a 6-3 win in the second match Sunday to move Team Europe to within one match of wresting the Mosconi Cup from Team USA in the 14th edition of the transatlantic team 9-ball battle at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Drago’s win gave the Europeans a 10-7 lead in the best-of-21 tournament. US rookie Shane Van Boening had pulled the Americans to within 9-7 with an opening match 6-4 comeback win over Russian Konstantin Stepanov. Drago, the 35-year-old Maltese rapid-fire shooter, ran his unbeaten streak in singles matches to four with his win over Archer. Archer’s performance was a combination of missed shots and misfortune. In addition to missing a straight-in 9 that would have given him a 3-2 lead, Archer suffered through two “illegal” breaks. In an effort to curb the rampant soft break tendencies, Cup promoters instituted a rule that forced players to drive three balls past the headstring on the break. (Pocketed balls counting against the three.) Twice Archer pocketed balls on the break but failed to drive a third ball past the headstring. Trailing 4-2, Archer slammed the rack and pocketed two balls, but again a third ball failed to make it up table, giving Drago an easy runout for a 5-2 lead.

The U.S. must win all four remaining matches to retain the Cup, which they’ve won 11 of 13 times.

The remaining matches pit Earl Strickland against reigning WPA world champion Daryl Peach, and, if necessary, Rodney Morris vs Ralf Souquet and Corey Deuel vs Niels Feijen. In the event that the U.S. forges a 10-10 tie, the captains would select a player for the case match.



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