Pagulayan Sets Up Dream Rematch With Bustamante

Alex Pagulayan

Reigning World Pool Champion Alex 'The Lion' Pagulayan set up a dream rematch with Francisco 'Django' Bustamante by scoring an impressive 11-6 victory over Antonio 'Ga-Ga' Gabica, ending Gabica's amazing unbeaten run in the Hope P1 million All-Filipino Billiards Open at the IBC 13 studios after Bustamante hardly worked up a sweat in defeating Gandy Valle 11-4 at the IBC television studios late Saturday.

Pagulayan had to come through the losers bracket after he lost an epic 9-8 cliffhanger to Bustamante but showed no signs of trouble as he blazed past giant-killer Rodolfo 'Boy Samson' Luat 9-4. Luat who had earlier ousted top favorite Efren 'Bata' Reyes and Warren Kiamco in succession had no answer to 'The Lion' who roared to a 4-0 lead before Luat clawed back to make it 4-4. Pagulayan quickly rattled off five racks in a row to seal the win and move on to the semi final clash with Gabica.

Bustamante, former world No. 1, quickly showed he would be hard to beat by racing to a 4-1 lead against Valle. After closing out the sixth rack on a 2-9 combo Valle failed to capitalize when Bustamante scratched and missed an easy shot on the 8-ball allowing Bustamante to run out 5-2. A golden break made it 6-2 and a couple of great safeties were capped with a 7-9 combination to wrap it up 11-4. Valle had earlier beaten Lee Van Corteza 9-5 in a losers bracket knockout match to set up the semi final showdown with Bustamante.

Pagulayan, who with Reyes and Bustamante give the Philippines the hottest trio in international pool started with a flourish and within minutes was up 5-1 against an utterly frustrated Gabica whose touch deserted him at a crucial stage of the tournament. But he showed his fighting heart when he was down 8-2 and won four of the next five racks to close the gap at 9-6. But Pagulayan was not to be denied. After moving to the hill on Gabica's break, Pagulayan sank three balls on the break and ran out the seventeenth rack to score a comfortable 11-6 win and forge an eagerly anticipated rematch with Bustamante in a race to fifteen final.

By way of a consolation Valle and early semi finalist Gabica will join Reyes, Bustamante, Pagulayan and Corteza in the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour. The highly successful All-Filipino Billiards Open under the auspices of Ernesto Fajardo, the president of the Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines in cooperation with the recognized godfather of Philippine billiards Aristeo 'Putch' Puyat and the president of Jemah Television Marc Roces