Big Three in Pool Keep on Winning

Francisco Bustamante

The big three in pool, Efren 'Bata' Reyes, Francisco 'Django' Bustamante and Alex 'The Lion' Pagulayan kept their winnings ways in the late night opening day matches of the round of sixteen at the Hope P1 million All-Filipino Billiards Open, sponsored by Talk N' Text and Smart and staged under the leadership of Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines president Edgar Fajardo in partnership with the acknowledged 'Godfather' of pool Aristeo 'Putch' Puyat.

Reyes cruised past Carlos Viado 9-5 in the alternate break format and will next face Antonio 'Ga-Ga' Gabica who earlier stunned Warren Kiamco 9-7. Bustamante, the former world No. 1 played some scintillating pool to rout Joven Alba 9-2 and will clash with young sensation Jeffrey De Luna whose style reminds fans of Reyes and has been christened 'Jeff Bata' because of his magical shots while Pagulayan whipped veteran Dy 9-3.

Promising 'Marvelous' Marlon Manalo, the former snooker ace who was forced to forfeit his opening match against De Luna because of a high fever was scheduled to face Alba in the losers bracket where Dy would take on veteran Leonardo 'Dodong' Andam who was earlier beaten by Gandy Valle 9-5. Kiamco who finished runner-up three times in the 2004 San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour was hoping to stay alive with a win over Viado in the losers side.

In an added incentive to the players in the round of sixteen, respected businessman-sportsman Puyat, president of Puyat Sports, announced that instead of one slot assigned to the top player in the All-Filipino Billiards Open on the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour which opens in Singapore on March 4, there will be two for the Philippines aside from seeded players Reyes, Bustamante, Pagulayan and Lee Van Corteza who flirted with disaster before pulling through against snooker champion Luis Saberdo 9-7 in his opening match.

Reyes who topped the money winners list on the international pool circuit last year with a cool $124,500/- and has so far won nearly $47,000 this year is the sentimental favorite although he is expected to face stiff competition from longtime buddy Bustamante and Pagulayan.