SEOUL – The European leading players in the PBA finals in Seoul took the main roles in the battle with 32 players in the pre-rounds and are the big contenders for the title of PBA champion. The tournament, launched by the organisation itself in imitation of other sports federations as the World Championship for professionals, completed its qualification rounds today, on Monday: 16 of 32 final players advance to the knock-out stage. Two of eight group winners are Koreans, the other six are five Europeans and one Vietnamese. David Zapata, Frédéric Caudron, Filippos Kasidokostas, Eddy Leppens and Korean Jong-won Kim remained unbeaten in three matches.

The Spaniard David Zapata is the best on average in the préqualifications with 2,088 ahead of Dong-koong Kang with 1,935, Frédéric Caudron with 1,909 and Eddy Leppens with 1.796. Filippos Kasidokostas and Savas Bulut shone with the maximum run of 15. The battle for the title in the first PBA championships, both men’s and women’s, will be contested on Thursday and Friday. The Europeans, who were eight in the men’s last 32, are major contenders for the top prize of 220.000 euros. Six of those eight enter the best sixteen (Caudron, Kasidokostas, Zapata, Leppens, Uymaz and Hofman), only Palazón and Bulut have been eliminated. Dong-koong Kang, Jong-won Kim, Jae-guen Kim and Vietnamese Minh Cam Ma are the main competitors.

The matches in the knock-out at the last sixteen, with the most striking match between Frédéric Caudron and Glenn Hofman, are:

Filippos Kasidokosta-Seong-won Mun
Eddy Leppens-Jae-guen Kim
Minh Cam Ma-Seong-uk Oh
David Zapata-Dong-woo Han
Jong-won Kim-Hyun-woo Kim
Birol Uymaz-Min-gu Kang
Dong-koong Kang-Tae-jun Oh
Frederic Caudron-Glenn Hofman

Frédéric Caudron, 53 years of age, is the oldest of six Europeans and the player with the most international titles, including three world titles in three cushion. Eddy Leppens is 51, Filippos Kasidokostas (one world title) is 37, Birol Uymaz 34, Glenn Hofman 31 and David Zapata the youngest: 28. In the Korean field of players, Jung-ju Shin (25), who was already eliminated before his last match against Kasidokostas, was the youngest finalist. Tae-jun Oh, like Zapata 28, did make the last sixteen.

38-year-old Korean Min-gu Kang is one of the notable players in the knock-out. He is the only four-time PBA finalist in this field, but he lost four times against Filippos Kasidokostas (2x), Frédéric Caudron and Javier Palazón. The Korean, living in Cheongju City (100 km from Seoul) is one of the many Asian players who were unknown on the international stage before his start in the PBA cycle. ”I played two World Cups in my career, both in Korea, because it was too expensive to travel to the World Cups outside Korea.”

David Zapata secured his third victory against Jin-pyo Hong in the third round, including a run of 14 and 2,000 on average in his last group match. Eddy Leppens also reached the maximum score in match points by beating Jun-hyuk Im 3-1 (1,676). Glenn Hofman lost his last match to Pedro Piedrabuena 3-0, but had already secured his place in the final tour.

Frédéric Caudron reached the group win with a third victory against In-ho Kim, one of the seniors in the final, who was the only one to finish under 1 average. Filippos Kasidokostas defeated young Korean Jung-ju Shin, who was the winner of the second PBA tournament in the first year and was eliminated now after only two games. The Greek lost the first set 15-0, but then ran to a 3-1 win. Birol Uymaz qualified by a victory over Yeong 3-0 (1,607).

The final standings in the grous:

Group A:
1 Filippos Kasidokostas 6-1,608-15
2 Dong-woo Han 4-1,250-8
3 Ho-suk Jung 2-1,281-6
4 Jung-ju Shin 0-1,407-8

Group B:
1 Frédéric Caudron 6-1,909-10
2 Seong-won Mun 4-1,207-6
3 Jun-suk Jung 2-1,375-13
4 In-ho Kim 0-0,927-6

Group C:
1 Jong-won Kim 6-1,376-10
2 Jae-guen Kim 4-1,310-8
3 Hyun-min Seo 2-1,530-10
4 Sang-pil Eom 0-1,255-10

Group D:
1 Dong-koong Kang 4-1,935-10
2 Seong-uk Oh 4-1,432-10
3 Bong-chul Kim 4-1,297-9
4 Robinson Morales 0-1,162-5

Group E:
1 David Zapata 6-2,088-14
2 Hyun-woo Kim 4-1,165-7
3 Javier Palazón 2-1,296-9
4 Jin-pyo Hong 0-1,293-9

Group F:
1 Eddy Leppens 6-1,1796-10
2 Min-gu Kang 4-1,290-10
3 Jun-hyuk Im 2-1,200-6
4 Savas Bulut 0-1,067-15

Group G:
1 Birol Uymaz 4-1,446-12
2 Glenn Hofman 4-1,376-11
3 Seong-youn Yeong 2-1,649-9
4 Pedro Piedrabuena 2-1,136-6

Group H:
1 Minh Cam Ma 4-1,532-11
2 Tae-jun Oh 4-1,382-11
3 Ki-hyok Kim 2-1,767-8
4 Sam-il Seo 2-1,307-9

Dong-koong Kang, one of the final 16 players from Korea
Juan David Zapata, the best on average in the pre-rounds
Eddy Leppens, strong European group winner
Glenn Hofman from Holland is in the last sixteen and is facing Frédéric Caudron in the knock-outs
Min-gu Kang, four times finalist, is one of the striking players in the last sixteen

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