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Vietnam Has Another New Hero: Duc Minh Tran

Ho Chi Minh City , May 26th 2024.

Korea? Turkiye? No, Vietnam is currently the number one 3-cushion country in the world. They supplied the current world champion (Phuong Vinh Bao), the world champions for national teams (Bao and Quyet Chien Tran) and the two most recent World Cup winners, Q.C. Tran and Duc Minh Tran.

The final in Ho Chi Minh was truly excellent, with a leading role for the sensational amateur Duc Minh Tran. He hasn’t played outside of his country, and therefore he has no ranking. So he started this World Cup in the earliest qualification round and ended it in a final against a Korean with a skull as hard as concrete: Jun Tae Kim. The Vietnamese had the lead all the way, but Kim mounted a wonderful comeback to make it a match: 33-20 and 44-31 changed into 50-46 in 23/22, the Vietnamese again having a cool nerve in the closing minutes.

In a way, Tran’s victory is reminiscent of Laurent Boulanger’s win in Valkenburg in 1988. The tall Belgian was, then, also a lone amateur in a field of professionals. It hasn’t happened in almost 200 World Cups since 1988, that’s how remarkable Tran’s win is. 

Many eyes in Ho Chi Minh were on Frédéric Caudron, playing his first UMB event in four years, having recently undergone hip surgery. The question: is he still one of the best, was quickly answered in the early rounds. Caudron averaged 1.622 for the event and showed both stronger and weaker moments, and a quarterfinal place reflected that well. 

The semifinal between Turkish stylist Tolgahan Kiraz and Duc Minh Tran was nervy, poor in quality and riddled with bad luck for both players. Near misses, kisses and unforced errors resulted in 50-42 in 49, Tran the winner. A disappointing end to a great tournament for Kiraz, who made many new fans. 

Burak Hashas too could look back on his best World Cup event ever. He was beaten fair and square by Jun Tae Kim in the second semi: 50-32 in 20/19, and can now prepare for his career in Korea. His general average of 1.820 is unheard of for an 18-year-old. We’ve not had a talent reach that level at so young an age since Dani Sánchez in the early nineties.  

The best general average in Ho Chi Minh was played by Eddy Merckx: 2.314. 

Merckx also recorded the event’s best match: 40 in 8 (5.000). 

The tournament high run was made by Jun Tae Kim: 22. The general average for the main event was 1.597.






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