Django Beats Pagulayan in Thriller

Francisco Bustamante

Francisco 'Django' Bustamante, his awesome break in full flow, tames Alex "The Lion" Pagulayan, the reigning World Pool Champion in a gut-wrenching thriller 9-8 to enter the semi finals of the Hope P1 million All Filipino Billiards Open Championship while Antonio 'Ga-Ga' Gabica also advanced in the winners bracket with a 9-4 rout of Asian Games gold medallist Lee Van Corteza 9-4 at the IBC 13 studios late Thursday.

Bustamante, the former world No. 1 made up for the disappointment of pool fans at the stunning ouster of last year's top money winner and crowd favorite Efren 'Bata' Reyes, his bosom buddy, with a scintillating performance against the feisty Pagulayan with three consecutive golden breaks sealing the deal. Bustamante almost nailed down a fourth but the 1-ball unfortunately kicked the 9-ball away from the pocket.

Pagulayan, according to on-site Puyat Sports representative Ish Caparas, appeared in command when he raced to a seemingly safe 5-2 lead in the alternate break format but Bustamante cracked three golden breaks in a row to even the count at 5-5. The two Filipino superstars of pool who have continued to dazzle pool fans on the international circuit battled all the way to 8-8 before disaster struck as Pagulayan scratched on his break in the 17th rack and simply conceded the frame and the match to Bustamante as it was a wide open table begging for a run-out.

Paglayan dropped to the losers bracket where he will meet veteran Rodolfo 'Boy Samson' Luat who is on a hot streak having eliminated 2004 San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour standouts Warren Kiamco and Reyes in succession. The winner of that much-anticipated clash will meet Gabica in one of the semi final matches. Gabica who has played some scintillating pool all week long raced to an unbelievable 8-0 lead against Corteza who could do nothing right before CortezA salvaged four racks to make it a respectable 8-4 count. But Gabica quickly settled the issue to win the 13th frame and the match 9-4.

Corteza has a chance to regain some pride when he plays 1998 Asian Games doubles gold medallist Gande Valle in a crucial losers bracket showdown with the winner having the unenviable task of going up against Bustamante in the second semi final.

The Hope P1 million billiards tournament is being staged under the auspices of the president of the Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines Ernesto Fajardo in cooperation with businessman-sportsman Aristeo 'Putch' Puyat an internationally recognized figure in pool and Marc Roces, president of Jemah Television.

Photo courtesy of Diana Hoppe - Pool Pics By Hoppe