Bucheon, Korea- The 2nd Annual Korea vs World Women's 3-Cushion Challenge added more strategy and entertainment value with 3-Cushion Champions Semih Sayginer(TUR) and Kyung Rul Kim (KOR) coaching the teams. Last year's event had the Korean ladies almost whitewashing the World Team 9-1. But this year would prove to be a much closer match. The event was produced by Dragon Promotions and aired on XTM, Korea's top entertainment variety channel.
This year's international lineup of ladies was lead by 8x Japanese Champion Akimi Kajitani, Turkish Champion Neslihan Gurel, the beautiful Shanelle Loraine of Guam, and Captained by The Magic Man Semih Sayginer. Team Korea led by Jeanette Lee, Yu Ram Cha, Korea 3-Cushion Woman's Champion Su Ha Park, and Captained by Korea #1 Kyung Rul Kim. The format was race to 5 points and first team to win seven matches.
This year's event was definitely going to be different from the very start as the World Team came out making a strong statement to the Koreans as Kajitani, Loraine, and Gurel took the first win 5-3 in the 3-on-3 with Sayginer coaching his underdog team superbly. Captain Kim's team bounced back right away from that wake up call with Cha and Lee winning the doubles 5-2 to tie the team score at 1-1. Then Korea #1 Park ran over Loraine 5-0 to put Korea on top. And then the unthinkable happened as Gurel ran out in two innings in the singles as Coach Sayginer guided her in Turkish to a 5-0 skunk of Jeanette Lee. Gurel tied the event back at 2-2.
"I hate you!" said Lee jokingly chasing Gurel after the match.
"Neslihan did something I can't even do, finish in two innings with a 2.5 average," laughed Sayginer.
It was Korea versus Japan as Kajitani took on Cha in the singles. Kajitani had never played 3-cushion before but under the tutelage of Sayginer, she looked world class. At 4-4, Kajitani made an incredible 5 rail billiard with the white going to the red ever so slowly, and looked as if it would not make it. The ball stopped a quarter inch of making the point...but somehow rolled on one more turn and froze to the red for the win! World Team had taken back the lead 3-2 and the Koreans were in for a real battle this year.
As the young ladies fought on the table, the two coaches were highly animated and moving around the table left and right. Kim was actually skipping and jumping to accommodate the speedy 30 second shot clock for TV. Sayginer was impressively speaking in English, Japanese, and Turkish to his players. And he even threw in some Korean as he would playfully tease his opposing Captain Kim.
Korea then avenged their earlier scotch defeat for a win in the 3-on-3 to tie again at 3-3. The Koreans were able to continue their streak with a 5-1 win in the 4-on-4 with the Captains being able to join their girls in a four way alternate shot match. The Koreans now led again at 4-3.
Kajitani came to the rescue again in her match against her Korean nemisis the Black Widow. Kajitani won 5-2 with Sayginer high fiving and encouraging her every move to tie the event again at 4-4. Kim rallied his troops back in the doubles as Park and Cha won a tight battle 5-3 over Loraine and Gurel. Korea 5 to World Team 4.
"Kudechi! Kudechi!" Captain Kim would shout jumping up and down as the balls collided for each point. The word means "that's right!" or "perfect"
"Kudechi!" Sayginer would shout back during the World Team's innings , mimicking Kim to the audiences laughter.
Next was another 3-on-3, and The World Team looked to tie the match again as they reached the hill first 4-2. The Korea Team was resilient and came back to win 5-4 to lead by two matches for the first time in the event. In th next 4-on-4 match with the Captains joining in once more, Sayginer led his team to another first hill battle at 4-1, but again the Korea Team escaped with Captain Kim jumping up to make the final shot yelling first "Game over, we win!" and then as he made the final point "Kudechi!"
"This was a fantastic event! There were so many great moments for the fans and TV. This is great for our sport." said Sayginer afterwards. "I was more nervous for them then I am for my own matches. My girls played hard and it was so close. It really could have easily gone the other way!"
"Semih was a fantastic coach! I never would have made so many points without him."said Gurel.
"At first I was very nervous when I was asked to play 3-Cushion. But Sayginer-san made us all very comfortable with the game." commented Kajitani.
"It was just as much about the coaches as it was the players. Both Semih and Kyung Rul were amazing and they made the event really unforgettable."said Cindy Lee, CEO of Dragon Promotions.
Korea vs Europe 3-Cushion Challenge was sponsored by XTM, Sopooong Department Store, Tony Moly Cosmetics, and Ra Beauty Salons. Official equipment sponsors are Simonis Cloth http://www.iwansimonis.com/, Vigma Balls www.vigma.com , Hollywood Tables, Poison Cues www.poisonbilliards.co.kr , and Predator Cues www.predatorcues.co.kr