SEOUL – The climax at the PBA Final Tour will come to an end in another finish than many billiard fans expected. The European contenders for the 220.000 euros top prize were all eliminated in the run-up to the final gala, except for one player: 28-year-old Spaniard David Zapata, who faces three Koreans in the semi-finals and meets Jae-guen Kim himself. The other two Koreans are Jong-won Kim and Dong-Koong Kang, who defeated Dutchman Glenn Hofman in the quarter-finals.
David Zapata, trained and developped in the Spanish school near Murcia, started as an outsider amidst European top players like Caudron, Kasidokostas, Palazón and Martinez, but is showing in the PBA finals his best form ever. The Spaniard’s UMB past was more or less modest: he won the European junior championship in 2012 ahead of Omer Karakurt from Turkey and the rather unknown Dutchman Jens van Dam. At the World Junior Championship in Guatemala in 2011, Zapata finished third following two Koreans Haeng-Jik Kim and Jun-Tae Kim.
The Spanish toreador defeated in the quarter finals the pretty dangerous Vietnamese Minh Cam Ma, who he allowed to come back to 2-2 after a 2-0 lead in sets (15-12 in 9, 15-8 in 4). He finally beat the Asian in the decisive set 15-6 in 8. Zapata left the arena after his victory to focus on his next match. ”I don’t want an interview now, please, we speak at the end of the tournament”.
Glenn Hofman, who played an excellent tournament, all the way with averages around 2,000, could not demonstrate that final sprint in his match against Dong-Koong Kang. The Dutchman, who shone most with his victory over Frédéric Caudron, ran into a fighting machine from the homeland in the Korean evening. Dong-Koong Kang attacked indestructibly at the decisive moments. He won the first set 15-14 and after Hofman’s 15-7 in the second set, Kang first struck 15-11 for a 2-1 lead and finally in the fourth set after being down 14-5, with 5 and at 14-14 with a fantastic bankshot to victory with 15-14. The slightly disappointed Hofman finished 2,077 on average against his opponent 1,926. The Dutchman missed out on the big money prizes, but returns to his homeland with 3.750 euro and lots of self-confidence.
Two other Europeans were also knocked down from the tournament in this round with the last eight. Filippos Kasidokostas was beaten by former Korean winner at the World championship for national teams in Viersen: Jae-Guen Kim. That match had a breathtaking final: Kim won the last two sets 15-14 when Kasidokostas could not finish it off.
Jong-won Kim, the number eight qualified player for the quarter finals, put an end to Birol Uymaz’ illusions. The Turk started 1-0 in sets (15-3 in 7), Kim took over a 2-1 lead (15-12 and 15-7), Uymaz won the fourth set 15-7 in 13, the decider went to Kim again, 15-12 in 10. Umaz finished higher on average: 1,488 against 1,333 for his opponent.
The matches in the semi-final, Friday 5 March:
Jong-won Kim-Dong-Koong Kang (Korean time 15.20, Western Europe 7.20)
David Zapata-Jae-guen Kim (Korean time 22.00, Western Europe 14.00).