Bustamante In Classic Win Over Pagulayan

Francisco Bustamante

Francisco "Django" Bustamante staged an incredible comeback when all seemed lost after he was down 2-8 to Alex "The Lion" Pagulayan in the race-to-fifteen finals of the Hope P1million All-Filipino Billiards Championship and pulled off another sensational 15-13 win to pocket the top prize of P500,000 at the packed IBC 13 television studios late Sunday.

Bustamante who had sent Pagulayan to the losers bracket in a 9-8 cliffhanger in the elimination round couldn't get his game going and when Pagulayan, the reigning World Pool Champion made an easy 2-9 combo after Bustamante scratched to lead 3-0, there was absolutely no inkling of what was to come. Pagulayan demonstrating exquisite control of the cue ball raced to a 5-1 lead before Bustamante, former world No. 1 began to get into his rhythm and a terrific 1-9 combination made it 5-2.

Pagulayan broke and ran out before Bustamante came up empty on his break allowing Pagulayan to move further ahead 7-2. With "The Lion" roaring to an 8-2 lead on another fantastic shot following a fabulous safety by Bustamante, the fans began to believe that the match was virtually over except for a few diehard Bustamante fans. Somehow it seemed the entry of IBC's top executive Philip Juico who is from the same region as Bustamante was the good luck charm as the Tarlac native quickly turned things around. Pagulayan scratched on the break in the twelfth rack and Bustamante after a run-out then sealed a 1-9 combination to come to within 8-4.

Another scratch on the break appeared to unsettle Pagulayan even as Bustamante, breaking much better and playing excellent positional pool came to within a rack at 9-8. Pagulayan's heartbreaking miss when the 3-ball rattled out of the "killer" corner pocket at the top of the table which had been the undoing of several players including Efren "Bata" Reyes, enabled Bustamante to tie the score at 10-10 and a run out on the next rack gave him the lead for the first time and brought a smile to his face. The two superstars of pool, considered two of the greatest players in the world today, traded racks before Pagulayan, down 14-13 after another Bustamante break and flawless run-out began singing "There's a light of Hope."

But hope flickered and then died as Pagulayan missed a long shot on the 1-ball and Bustamante rammed the 8-ball in screaming "that's it" before sealing the remarkable victory with a grin and a shout. Aristeo "Putch" Puyat, acknowledged internationally as the "Godfather" of Philippine pool who staged the tournament under the auspices of the Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines headed by its president Edgar Fajardo and with the cooperation of Jemah TV president Marc Roces, was elated over the quality of the match and the form of the Filipinos who will begin their quest for honors in the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour which opens in Singapore on Friday.

Photo courtesy of Diana Hoppe - Pool Pics By Hoppe