Bustamante Beats Immonen in Classic

Francisco Bustamante

Francisco 'Django' Bustamante finally lived up to his reputation as a world-beater with a pulsating 11-10 victory over 2001 World Pool Champion Mika 'The Iceman' Immonen in the finals of the A Mild International Open at Paradiso Bowling and Billiard Center in the charming Indonesian resort city of Bali over the weekend which billiard enthusiasts regarded as a classic battle of nerves.

Bustamante more than made up for the stunning defeats suffered by Efren 'Bata' Reyes who won last week's San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour leg in Jakarta and reigning World Pool Champion Alex 'The Lion' Pagulayan as well as favored Filipinos Lee Van Corteza, Marlon Manalo and Rodolfo Luat who were ousted in the round of sixteen and Gandy Valle who fell by the wayside earlier.

Bustamante avenged the loss of countrymen Reyes and Corteza to Vietnam's 'giant-killer' Luong Chi Dung with an awesome display of pool, showing no mercy in winning 9-2 but Immonen matched Bustamante with a rout of his own, completely outplaying Chinese-Taipei's Chu Hung Ming 9-1. Bustamante pocketed $12,500 for his sterling effort which was his second major triumph so far, having won the Hope P1 million All Filipino Billiards Open last February. Bustamante's triumph was all the more significant because he ruled a field that included former world champions Immonen, Reyes, Pagulayan and celebrated Taiwanese Fong Pang Chao.

Bustamante, with his break working well and pocketing with precision, raced to an early lead to have Immonen on the run most of the way but the fabulous Finn who is a frequent Manila visitor kept his cool to stage a remarkable comeback and tie the count at 10-10 after Bustamante reached the hill first.

Immonen had every chance to complete his amazing comeback when he broke on the 21st rack. He pocketed two balls on the break and left the 3-ball hanging near the pocket. Uncharacteristically 'The Iceman' melted after a poor preparation on the 4-ball. Bustamante then played the shot of his life. A brilliant safety saw Immonen blunder and left Bustamante an easy lay out which he ran out in a flourish to the delight of a large crowd of Filipinos.

Businessman-sportsman Aristeo 'Putch' Puyat, the recognized 'Godfather of Pool' was elated at the second successive victory in a week by Reyes and Bustamante following Valle's win in the opening leg of the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour in Singapore and Reyes win in the tough Japan Open. Puyat said 'it goes to show that the Filipinos are really the best in the region when it comes to billiards.' Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines president Ernesto Fajardo said 'we are on the right track in our bid to make good in the Southeast Asian Games. This is the result of our continued effort to give exposure to our players.'