Injured Django Bustamante wins Fil 9-Ball Open

Francisco Bustamante

NEW YORK, NEW YORK---INJURED elbow and all, former world no.1 Francisco "Django" Bustamante emerged champion in the just concluded Philippine 9-Ball Open at the Robinson's Galleria Trade Hall Sunday night in Mandaluyong City, Philippines and enroute the top purse P500,000 (roughly US$10,000) for his superb performance.

The Tarlac native and Germany based Bustamante played a total of 47 racks and rallied from an early three-rack deficit to nipped Dennis "Surigao" Orcullo, 15-13, to win his first national open trophy.

" I thankful to God it's already finish. It's hard to play when you had an injury in your elbow especially in billiards event," said Bustamante after the game in the race-to-15 championships round with a total pot prizes of P1.35-million (roughly US$ 23,500) in the tournament co-organized by Puyat Sports headed by God Father of Philippine Billiards Aristeo “Putch” Puyat and Solar Sports and fully sanctioned of the Billiard Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) led by it's president Ernesto “Ernie” Fajardo.

Bustamante suffered his right elbow injury when he playing Mike Davis in the loser's side of the 2005 Carolinas Open at the Fast Eddie's in North Carolina last September.

Bustamante recalled that he reached back to break the balls and fell something pull in his right elbow.He beat Davis in the said event by 11-4 count but decided not to continue and ceded his match with eventual winner Larry Nevel in the finals. Django was trailing by 5 to 12 racks in the race-to-15 championships round.

The 42-year-old Filipino pool star is go to undergo test the other day to determine if he's fit to play long tournaments.Bustamante is accustomed to playing in the middle of chaos.

The nagging pain on his elbow would hurt like an ants bite compared to the dilemma of playing on the biggest stage of pool while your baby daughter was dying back home.

To refresh your memories, Bustamante went all the way to the finals of the 2002 World Pool Championship in Cardiff, Wales despite the emotional distress caused by the untimely death of his youngest child.

He eventually finished second to American Earl "The Pearl" Strickland to achieve his best finish in the annual competition.

The injury seemed to have taken its toll on Bustamante in the finals.

Bustamante, known for his strong breaking game, failed to hold his breaks thrice on seven tries as Orcullo took an 8-6 lead.

It would have been worse if not for a brilliant carom shot on the red three that pocketed the nine-ball on the sixth rack that stopped a four-rack tear by Orcullo and pulled Bustamante within 2-4.

“ I got lucky," added Bustamante, tormentor of United Arab Emirates campaigner Mario "Aklan" Tolentino in the semis.

Orcullo also had his share of brilliancies who defeated former AZ Billiards Rookie of the Year Ronnie “Calamba” Alcano, 11-8, in the other pair of final four to forge a rematch with undefeated Bustamante in the finals.

His four-cushion kiss shot on the blue two set up an easy clean up and give him his biggest lead at 4-1.

Orcullo's dry break on the 15th frame proved to be the turning point of the match as Bustamante clustered two racks to level at 8-all.

A pocketing error by Orcullo on the 25th led to another two-rack cluster by Bustamante and shoved the former world No. 1 to the hill, 14-12.

Both players held their breaks from there to settle the final score.

Despite the loss, Orcullo who hail from Bislig, Surigao Del Sur didn't go home with an empty hand after receiving his runner-up prize of P250,000 (roughly US$5,000)