Bustamante Wins Villar Cup 1st Leg

Francisco Bustamante

Pool legend Francisco “Django” Bustamante proved he's still a force to reckon with when he put on a near flawless performance to beat Roberto Gomez 11-7 in the finals of the Panagbenga leg of the Manny Villar Cup at the SM City Event Center in the summer capital of Baguio late Sunday.
In a battle of two former World Pool Championship runners-up the 44 year old Bustamante swept his way to the title in a breakthrough feat to grab the title he said he had wanted so much to win. Bustamante was runner-up to Earl “The Pearl” Strickland in an emotional final in Cardiff , Wales in 2003 while Gomez lost to England's Darryl Peach in the finals at the Araneta Coliseum when Manila hosted the World Pool Championships in 2007.
The former world No. 1 and "Player of the Year" in 1998 had not won a major title since taking the Derby City Classic Master of the Table title in January 2007 and had failed to advance beyond the quarter finals in the previous stops of the exciting island-hopping series presented by Senator Manny Villar's Villards: Tulong sa Pagsulong ng Philippine Sports.
In a post match interview Bustamante said “ I'm very happy for this win because the Villar Cup is one of the toughest tournaments not just here in the Philippines but in the whole world.”
A favorite son of Tarlac province, Bustamante pocketed the P300,000 (over $6,000)  cash prize at stake in the prestigious three-day event sponsored by Camella Communities.

After splitting the first six racks with both players holding their own breaks, Bustamante stole Gomez's break after the latter was forced to play a safety on a difficult layout.

That ignited a 6-2 run that gave Bustamate a 9-5 lead. Gomez, who was hoping to duplicate his title run in Davao , attempted to bounce back and managed to close in at 9-7, but that proved to be his last stand as Bustamante broke and ran out the 17th frame.
That set up an enthralling safety battle but Bustamante, banking on his years of experience and an uncanny touch eventually triumphed to close out the match 11-7 and add another trophy to his showcase.
“I congratulate you Django for winning this Panagbenga leg,” said Senator Villar during the awarding ceremony witnessed by a jampacked crowd. “You are a hero of this nation and we are very proud of you.”
Sen. Villar, who is now the biggest benefactor of Philippine billiards, also cited teenage bet Rene Mar David for his second runner-up finish.

He said “I'm happy to see that our young players like Rene Mar are slowly catching up with our superstars as it shows that we are achieving our main objective in putting up the Villar Cup, which is to develop more world-class pool players and continue our dominance in the sport..” .

David, the 19-year-old upstart from Candon, Ilocos Sur, won his first three matches, including a mammoth upset of pool icon Efren “Bata” Reyes in the second round, before bowing to Bustamante, 10-8, in the semifinals..
Gomez, who was trying to become the first two-time Villar Cup winner, settled for the runner-up purse of P120,000, while David and other losing semifinalist Warren Kiamco took home P40,000 each.
A total of 32 players competed in the main draw in this sixth stage of the Villar Cup, including two local bets in Oscar LaPuebla and Benedict Rojo. The series will have its next stop in Quezon ( Lucena City ) next month.
Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines (BMPAP) president Atty. Vic Rodriguez also said that Villar will be the chief backer of the national championship being organized by the BMPAP.