Bustamante Takes First League Title

Francisco Bustamante

Francisco Bustamante of the Philippines took his first ever 888.com World Pool League title as he beat fellow Pinoy Alex Pagulayan by a single rack in front of an enthralled audience at the N.O.T Building in Central Warsaw.

The match was nip and tuck from start to finish but in the end it was Bustamante, who won the round robin section earlier in the day, who held his nerve at the finish to take the $20,000 top prize.

With the table breaking nice and easy, it was critical not to make any mistakes and on reflection it was Bustamante who looked the most assured player in the competition throughout.

Bustamante drew first blood as he ran the opening rack out from the break and he stepped up the pace to open up a 3 – 1 lead and leave Pagulayan up against it. The Canadian took the next though to reduce the deficit and followed that up with a break and run to square the match at 3 – 3.

Bustamante's next break shot saw balls go down but a table length bank on the 1 ball stopped in the jaws of the pocket as the crowd willed it to drop. Pagulayan stepped up to the plate and cleared the table to win his third rack on the spin and go into the lead at 4 – 3.

Pagulayan ran out of position in the next going from 2 to 3 and missed the attempt on the pot. He compounded the felony as the cue balled rolled into the bottom pocket.

With ball in hand, Bustamante levelled the score at four racks each and regained the lead as he ran out from the break in the ninth game.

Pagulayan found the balls locked up following his break shot but tied his opponent up in a tough snooker. Busta escaped but when the Canadian locked him up again, his escape shot left the 1 ball on and from there Pagulayan ran out to take the lead at 5 – 4.

Bustamante won the next to level the match at 5 – 5 before both players had visits to the table in the eleventh game. It was a brave bank shot though from Bustamante that gave him the initiative and he seized the chance and ran the rack out to take the lead, this time at 6 – 5.

With so much at stake, Pagulayan hung on in the next and ran out from the break to get back on level terms and it was game on in a race to two with Bustamante to break.

When he needed it he delivered a top draw break shot and calmly potted the table to get to the hill at 7 – 6.

Pagulayan though, dug deep himself to break and clear the table to set up a final rack decider for the destination of the $20,000 top prize.

With the title on the line, Bustamante lost control of the white off the break but the necessary ball dropped leaving him a relatively simple road map to victory.

He calmly worked his way around the table and when the final 9 ball dropped, the Polish crowd let out a huge roar.

Afterwards, Bustamante was delighted with his win following a relatively lack lustre season, “It was a great win for me to beat my little brother Alex and the crowd here in Warsaw were brilliant. It was a major win and I think I played well throughout the tournament. “