Pagulayan beats Bustamante in Epic Hope P1m Final

Alex Pagulayan

Alex 'The Lion' Pagulayan and Francisco 'Django' Bustamante relived their classic battle in the Hope P1 million All Filipino Championship last February with another epic showdown at the IBC 13 studios in Quezon City Sunday night. Only this time the result was reversed as Pagulayan avenged his previous loss to score a nerve-wracking 15-14 victory.

Bustamante who, prior to the match said he had something new with his break kept his word winning the lag and pocketing four balls on the break and duplicating the feat the next time around in the alternate break format to take a 2-1 lead. But after Pagulayan tied the count at 2-2 Bustamante again buried four balls on an incredible break and then capitalized on a Pagulayan miss on the four ball to open up a 4-2 lead before another scorching break where he pocketed three balls providing for a comfortable run-out and a 5-2 lead.

Pagulayan who was breaking on the left side of the table took the cue from Bustamante and switched to the right and it immediately paid off as he pocketed three balls to take the rack and make it 5-3 before both players for the first time made some bad mistakes with Pagulayan missing a cut on the 3-ball and Bustamante missing a comparatively easy shot on the pink four and compounding the error by scratching.

Bustamante appeared to take control when, despite a difficult layout on his break, ran-out to stay in front by three at 9-6. Pagulayan got a big break when Bustamante scratched on a 2-8 carom and he closed the gap to one at 9-8 but the little Filipino scratched on the break and Bustamante with a scintillating long shot on the 9-ball once again established a two rack lead 10-8.

Pagulayan was finding his rhythm and moving around the table with authority and soon the World Pool Champion, playing some exquisite pool strung four racks together to move in front 12-10. A series of jump shots and safeties ended with Bustamante squeezing the 2-ball past the three in the smallest of openings to cut Pagulayan's lead to 13-12 and when Pagulayan missed an extremely dufficult bank shot up and down the table Bustamante cleaned up to make it 13-13. Then disaster struck as Bustamante scratched and after a titanic and tense exchange the score was tied at 14-14 with Bustamante to break.

But the former world No. 1 despite burying four balls on the break snookered himself on a bank shot on the 2-ball. Pagulayan executed a fantastic shot on the 2-ball, lined up the three and cleaned up in style to win another epic battle. Pagulayan yelled out in relief and then embraced and kissed Bustamante several times. Pagulayan confessed he was 'very nervous at the start because Django had so many fans' but said his 'confidence built up when I drew even.'

File photo courtesy of John Kenyon