Efren, Django drop Canada, make World Cup quarters

Reyes exults as Bustamante nails winning 9 Ball. Image copyright Bob Guerrero.

They're called the B team, but these two don't take a back seat to anyone.

Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante treated a packed crowd in Robinson's Place Ermita to a Billiards masterclass in eliminating Canada 8-5 at the 2012 World Cup of Pool.

Philippines B now face Finland in the quarterfinals on Saturday, after Mika Immonen and Petri Makkonen stunned defending champs Germany 8-4.

In an interesting twist, Canada fielded John Morra and Filipino-Canadian Alex Pagulayan. "The Lion" had previously represented the Philippines in Pool and Snooker in the SEA Games but for this team event flew the Canadian flag.

The Philippines won the first rack then lost the second rack in bizarre fashion: via the Three Foul Rule. In 9 Ball, three consecutive fouls means loss of rack, and Canada forced the three fouls with great safeties on the three ball. A Three-Foul rack loss is extremely rare in professional Pool.

Pagulayan pretended to celebrate theatrically at the accomplishment; no mean feat since Reyes and Bustamante are two of the best counter-safety experts in the game.

The Pinoys won the next rack but then Canada seized the initiative. Reyes scratched on the break in rack four and the Canadians cleaned up.

Bustamante missed a bank on the next rack and Canada once again ran out to get to 3-2. After Bustamante fouled getting out of a snooker in rack six, Canada led 4-2.

The Philippines won rack 7 then took the next after Pagulayan botched a simple 8 ball, leaving a table-length bank for Bustamante. To the delight of the crowd, the 2010 World 9 Ball champ buried it and set up the 9 Ball for Reyes. 4-4.

Canada retook the lead in the next rack, but after Pagulayan broke dry, the Philippines ran out then broke and ran out the next to go up 6-5.

In rack twelve Pagulayan made a subpar safety, allowing Reyes to slice in the two. But Bustamante ran out of position potting the seven, and Reyes was left with an awkward position on the eight ball.

This time it was his turn to dazzle the crowd, as he slammed home the ensuing table-length bank to the delight of the crowd. Bustamante raised his arms in triumph and relief. He took down the nine for 7-5.

[RELATED: Reyes and Bustamante win their opening match]

In Rack thirteen Alex committed his fourth unforced error, a miss on the six. The Pinoys ran out and the flag-waving crowd erupted in applause.

After the match Pagulayan, smiling but visibly disappointed, turned to the officials table where referees Nigel Rees and Michaela Tabb were sitting and said "I suck!" His partner Morra, cheered on by fiancee Ana Tulauan, was steadier, committing only one unforced error.

The victory of Philippines B comes a day after the heralded Philippines A team of Dennis Orcollo and Lee Van Corteza were upset 8-7 by Switzerland. The host country in the World Cup of Pool gets to field two teams.

Thursday also saw the last of the opening round matches. Japan, bannered by Satoshi Kawabata and Naoyuki Ooi, took out Russia's Konstantin Stepanov and Vitaly Pavlukhin, 8-6. The Japanese meet Chinese Taipei on Friday.

The Netherlands bucked 5-1 and 7-4 deficits against Croatia's Karlo Dalmatin and Philipp Stojanovic to win 8-7. Dutchman Nick Van Den Berg was the recipient of a handy fluke on the one ball in rack fourteen to help him and Huidji See draw level. Stojanovic missed a hard four ball in rack fifteen and the Netherlands cleaned up. They next meet Poland.

The Poles, Karol Skowerski and Wojciech Szewcyk, also roared back from a 5-1 deficit to eliminate Australia's David Reljic and Ian Barber 8-6.

Italy also made the round of 16, ousting Vietnam 8-7. Do The Kien and his partner Nguyan Anh Tuan were impressive, making loads of tough shots. They could be the strongest team not to progress after one round. Fabio Petroni and Bruno Muratore play Switzerland on Friday.

The defending champs, Germany, are done, victims of an inspired showing by Finland, who made just two unforced errors to win 8-4.

Immonen flubbed a 9 ball in rack seven but other than that was excellent. His younger partner, Makkonen, was perfect, with zero unforced errors, as the Scandinavians reeled off the last five racks enroute to victory after being down 4-3.

The Finns had back-to-back break-and-run-outs twice in the match, a rarity in this year's event.

Thorsten Hohmann was steady but his partner, Ralf Souquet made three unforced errors, none worse than the one in the last rack, when he hooked his partner on the six ball. Moments later, the Finns dropped the nine for the win.

Finland now play Reyes and Bustamante on Saturday's quarterfinals. The Filipino duo is aiming to win this event for a record third time. They and China's Li He Wen and Fu Jian Bo have both lifted the trophy twice.

Meanwhile, the field is further winnowed down with more round-of-16 clashes at Robinson's Place Ermita on Friday.

TV coverage on Solar Sports kicks off at three pm. The semifinals and final will be held on Sunday, with the winning team getting US$60,000.

You can follow Bob Guerrero on Twitter @bhobg333.

There will once again be no Passionate Fan coverage of the World Cup of Pool for Day 4 because of the Azkals' game in Singapore. But the Yahoo Sports staff should pick up the slack.

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