Archer Meets Bustamante in Manila Finals

Johnny Archer

Johnny “The Scorpion” Archer continued his fine form in recent months with a classic 11-8 victory over Alex “The Lion” Pagulayan in the semi finals of the LG Flatron “On Cue 2” tournament held at the Robinson's Galeria shopping mall along busy Ortigas Avenue in Metro Manila yesterday to arrange a highly anticipated showdown with Filipino pool wizard Francisco “Django” Bustamante for the top prize of $20,000.

Bustamante, in an awesome display of pool, routed World Pool Champion Thorsten Hohmann 11- 2 to avenge his 7 – 4 loss to the young German in the elimination round but graciously predicted a great future for Hohmann who he said had “made remarkable progress in a couple of years.”

Bustamante who lives in Germany revealed that he had helped Hohmann improve his game and the 24 year old was “grateful for the help” and considered Bustamante a friend and mentor.

TV commentators in Manila had christened Hohmann “The Hitman” after his spectacular showing in the first two days where he topped the standings on the Europe - USA bracket with a 3 – 1 slate but against Bustamante, it was Hohmann who took the hit as the No. 2 Filipino played an impeccable game to which Hohmann had no answer.

Archer, coming off a run of three consecutive triumphs in major tournaments in the US had to fight off some mid-match errors and a gallant stand by the Canada-based Filipino to break away from an 8 –7 count to win the last four racks to make his fourth successive finals appearance with an impressive 11- 8 win. An error by Pagulayan when he was leading 8 – 7 was all Archer needed to get back into the match and pull off another epic win.

With the score tied at 8 – 8 Archer benefited from the roll of the balls and with an excellent three rail kick shot off the 2-ball set the stage for a endgame run by moving ahead 9 – 8. A massive break that slammed three balls into the pocket and put the cue ball on the center of the table enabled Archer to get to the hill 10-8.

Pagulayan pocketed the 3-ball on the break but hadn't a shot on the 1 and decided to push out. Archer, who was now playing with supreme confidence went for it despite the fact that the 5 and 7 were tied up near the side pocket. After a terrific shot on the 1-ball Archer sank the 2-ball and in the process drew the cue ball back to break up the cluster which paved the way for a stylish run-out and a place in the finals.

In a post match interview Archer said “I'm playing well. I'm playing my best pool in ten years.” He credited his wife for his success saying she pointed out that he was playing too slow. Archer said he turned things around the moment he stepped up the pace of his game.

He predicted “it' going to be a tough match” against Bustamante and refused to concede that he had the edge. Archer said he was more comfortable with the race-to-13 finals because despite the alternate break format a player had a chance to recover from a couple of mistakes.

Archer, a many-time visitor to Manila along with Strickland and Immonen who has opened a bar in the plush business district of Makati City and has made Manila his second home said “ the crowd loves me even though they are tough on me. Its great to be here. I love it.”

All the visiting players had nothing but praise for businessman-sportsman Aristeo "Putch" Puyat who is regarded as the "Godfather" of Philippine pool and has been instrumental not only in supporting Filipino players abroad but also bringing in the big names in pool for international tournaments in Manila.

Photo courtesy of Mark Whiteside