Europe Wins Mosconi Cup, 12-9
by Mike Panozzo Dec 23, 2002, 5:41 AM EST
If Matchroom Sport promoter Barry Hearn and his cronnies at Sky Sports could have scripted the perfect ending to the perfect Mosconi Cup, it likely would have featured English cue legend Steve Davis depositing the final 9 ball in a European upset over the heavily favored Americans, and a decidedly pro-Euro crowd exploding into a flag-waving, confetti-throwing frenzy.
Hearn and U.K. sports cable network Sky got exactly that on Sunday night at York Hall in London’s East End when Davis sealed Europe’s 12-9 victory. Officially, it was Team Europe’s first Mosconi Cup triumph since 1995. Realistically, it was Europe’s first win in sevent tries against a squad truly comprised America’s full firepower.
"This is just incredible," said a jubilant Ralf Souquet, the German sharpshooter who’d participated in eight of the nine Mosconi Cup events, missing only the 1995 edition. "We knew eventually it would happen, but it has taken so long."
The Europeans (captain Oliver Ortmann of Germany, countryman Souquet, Davis, Sweden’s Marcus Chamat, Finland’s Mika Immonen and Dutch youngster Nick Van den Berg) won the 2002 Cup by winning six of the nine singles matches, a portion of the tournament that has traditionally been dominated by the U.S.
On Sunday evening Chamat put Europe on the hill at 11-8 with an error-prone 5-2 win over Nick Varner. Despite poor positional play, and aided by several fluke shots, Chamat pushed the U.S. to the limit with his unexpected win.
Charlie Williams staved off elimination with a hard-fought 5-3 win over Souquet, setting up Davis’ duel with reigning world champion and Mosconi Cup mainstay Earl Strickland. Davis had several opportunities to close out the match early, but a pair of miscues kept Strickland in the match. Strickland sent the match to a deciding game by running out from the break to tie the score at 4-4. And when Davis scratched following a Strickland safety in the case game, it looked like America would trim the team deficit to 11-10, with Strickland set to face Immonen in the next match. But the normally reliable North Carolina native got out of position on the 6, and missed a thin cut, hanging the 6 in the jaws of the corner pocket. Davis calmly deposited the final three balls to send the York Hall faithful into sing-song hysteria.
"I think Europe winning is fundamental to growing the Mosconi Cup," said Hearn. "It can’t grow without Europe challenging the U.S. This could now help us take this event to the next level."
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