Vietnam beat Spain to win world billiards team championship for first time

By Xuan Binh   March 24, 2024 | 07:33 pm PT
Tran Quyet Chien and Bao Phuong Vinh won Vietnam's first World Three-Cushion Championship for National Teams, after defeating Spain 15-14 in the intense final in Germany Monday.

The final on Monday morning (Hanoi time) saw Vietnam and Spain drawing after two games and having to decide victory in a tie-break, where the score was also tied 14-14, meaning whichever team score the next point would be the winner. Right after Spain missed the opportunity, Vinh scored the decisive point and brought the trophy to Vietnam.

Trần Quyết Chiến (trái) và Bao Phương Vinh trên bục trao cup và huy chương ở giải carom 3 băng đồng đội thế giới ở Viersen, Đức ngày 24/3/2024. Ảnh: Billard1

Tran Quyet Chien (L) and Bao Phuong Vinh receive the World Three-Cushion Championship for National Teams title in Viersen, Germany on March 24, 2024. Photo by Billard1

When the cue ball just touched the rail for the second time from Vinh's last shot, Chien was already celebrating. Only when the cue ball almost touched the target ball did Vinh start the celebration with Chien.

Billiards became one of the few sports where Vietnam have ever won the world national team championship, besides shuttlecock, sepak takraw and aerobics.

Vietnam's dominance in three-cushion billiards is affirmed when the team are the defending champion of all three world competitions, including the World Cup (won by Chien), World Championship (won by Vinh) and the World Championship for National Teams where the two teamed up.

Neither Vietnam or Spain had been crowned champions before. Spain had reached the final twice but failed to win, and this time Ruben Legazpi and Sergio Jimenez continued to receive defeat by quite a close margin.

In the first match, Vinh showed Jimenez who’s the boss. When the score was 18-11 for Vinh, he scored 11 consecutive points to lead 29-11. The comfortable lead allowed Vietnam's number two player to take his time and win 40-22 after 18 turns.

Vietnam’s number one player Chien faced more difficulties in the second match against Legazpi, the 2022 world runner-up. Chien scored 11 points in his first turn but failed in the next nine turns. At one point, Legazpi led by 11 points, but then Chien tried to shorten the gap. When Chien equalized 36-36, Vinh clapped his hands and continued to cheer for him. However, the 40-year-old still lost 38-40 after 27 turns, leading the final into a tie-break.

In the tie-break, the players took turns playing at the same table. According to the rules, whichever team reach 15 points first win.

When the Vietnamese duo were leading 14-11, Vinh missed by only about a millimeter. When the score was 14-13, it was Chien's turn to miss by only a few millimeters. Spain took advantage of the opportunity to equalize 14-14 but could not finish with their next shot, leaving Vinh to take the winning shot.

Bao Phương Vinh reo mừng sau khi ghi điểm quyết định ở chung kết gặp Tây Ban Nha. Ảnh: Kozoom

Bao Phuong Vinh celebrates after scoring the decisive point in the final against Spain. Photo by Kozoom

World Three-Cushion Championship for National Teams has taken place in Viersen, Germany annually since 1991, with 16 participating teams. Each team have two players, of which Vietnam were considered the number one seed as Chien and Vinh are second and eighth in the world. Before this tournament, Vietnam had never gone beyond the quarterfinals.

Vietnam surprised everyone when they and Spain eliminated defending champion Turkey in the group stage. In all three knockout matches against Belgium, the U.S. and Spain, Vietnam won in the tie-break.

Chien, 40, has won the Three-Cushion World Cup three times. Vinh, 29, won the World Championship last year, in his first time playing the tournament.

The world titles of these two players also helped Vietnam capture the world title treble. Previously, only seven countries had done the same thing, which were Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Turkey, Japan and South Korea.

Bao Phuong Vinh with his decisive point to bring Vietnam victory at the World Three-Cushion Championship for National Teams title in Viersen, Germany on March 24, 2024.

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