Bustamante Storms Into Round Of 64

Francisco Bustamante
Bustamante Storms Into Round Of 64

Francisco “Django” Bustamante stormed into the knockout round of 64 in the 2006 Philippines World Pool Championships with an 8-1 annihilation of England's Darren Appleton past midnight Monday on the main TV table at the Philippine International Convention Center on a day of mixed fortunes for the host nation.

The small band of diehard pool fans who stayed around to watch the former world No.1 and runner-up to Earl Strickland in 2002 were rewarded by a vintage Bustamante performance which reinforced his bosom buddy Efren “Bata” Reyes' prediction that Bustamante was the man to beat in Manila.

With Reyes staying behind to watch his longtime friend and partner in winning the inaugural World Cup of Pool some months ago, Bustamante showcased his awesome break, excellent safety play and superb pocketing that left Appleton stuck in his chair for long and uncomfortable spells.

Earlier, Reyes eased into the KO stages with a crucial 8-5 win over Roy Apancho of Indonesia in a must-win match, edging his opening day conqueror Tony Crosby on racks won and lost percentages, but it was the 8-1 demolition of German machine Oliver Ortmann by veteran Rodolfo “Boy Samson” Luat who played flawless pool that was the talk of the huge crowd that thronged to the beautiful venue which has won nothing but praise from all the foreign players.

Adding to the Filipinos delight was the pressure-laden comeback of Marlon Manalo who was down 1-4 against American Mike Davis before pulling himself together with a couple of marvelous shots to win an 8-7 cliffhanger and move into the next round. Southeast Asian Games double gold medalist Lee Van Corteza followed up his opening match 8-4 win over Australian Stuart Lawler with an 8-3 rout of Croatia's Philipp Stojanovic to also advance.

Comparative lesser lights Rudy Morta who smashed favored South Korean Jeong Young Hwa 8-1 and advanced from his group along with likeable Swede Marcus Chamat and Roberto Gomez who clinched his spot with a solid 8-3 win over Japan's Masaaki Tanaka and joined youthful American Corey Deuel from Group 22 in the no tomorrow, knockout phase.

Catching the fancy of jaded pool fans was young left Jeffrey de Luna who also advanced with a stylish 8-3 victory over Chris Calabrese of Australia. Veteran Ramil “Bebeng” Gallego had to wait anxiously for the result of the final deciding match in Group 32 between American Rob Saez whom he beat 8-6 on day one and Thailand's Tepwin Arunnath. Luckily for Gallego, the Thai newcomer felt the pressure and lost to Saez by a wide 8-2 margin and was eliminated with Gallego sneaking in on racks won.

But it wasn't all roses for the local bets as 2004 World Pool Champion Alex “The Lion” Pagulayan failed to duplicate his opening day 8-2 victory over Gustavo Espinosa of Argentina and went down with a mere whimper in an 8-2 shellacking by China's dangerous Li He Wen who was all business from the start. Pagulayan, Gandy Valle, Dennis Orcollo and Santos Sambajon are in danger of falling by the wayside unless they comeback strong in their final matches while Leonardo Andam. Antonio Lining, Jose “Amang” Parica, Israel Rota and and Eduardo Villanueva have been sent packing from the original list of 21 Filipinos, the largest in the classy field of 128.