Bustamante Wins All-Filipino Billiards Battle
In a flawless performance on the main TV table, Francisco Bustamante won the billiard battle of the Filipino giants as he crushed Alex Pagulayan 11-2 to book a spot in the quarter-finals of the 2007 Philippines World Pool Championship.
Playing in front of a standing room only crowd at the Araneta Coliseum, the game was something of an anti-climax as Bustamante mastered the easy breaking table as he ran rack after rack, leaving Pagulayan in his chair.
The ever-popular Bustamante has the tag of the greatest player never to have won this title but he will now be betting favourite to lift the trophy on Sunday night.
Bustamante won the lag and proceeded to run out the first two racks but bad positional play in the third forced him into a bank attempt but he missed to let Pagulayan to the table for the first time. The 2004 Champion completed the run out to take the score to 2-1.
A soft break from Pagulayan saw the 2 ball tied up and he was forced to play safe. Both players traded safeties before Pagulayan closed out the rack to level it at two racks each.
Pagulayan couldn’t get onto the 3 ball in the next but his second option was to tie his opponent up in a tight safety. Bustamante went off three rails, made contact with the 3 ball and fortuitously it nudged the 5 ball into the pocket.
There was more safety but Bustamante prevailed to regain the lead at 3-2. A 2/9 combination increased the 43-year-old Tarlac natives lead. Bustamante struggled with his positional play in the next but always had the shot to recover as he cleared the table to get to 5-2.
Things looked ominous for Pagulayan as Bustamante, another player to have mastered the soft break on the TV table, took the next to open a four rack gulf. There was more of the same in the next rack as Pagulayan cut a sorry figure in the arena, waiting for a chance.
Bustamante completed his fifth break and run of the game in the tenth to increase his lead to 8-2. There was a potential problem in the next for Bustamante but he used the 9 ball to hold the white when cutting the 2 ball into the centre pocket and continued on his way to leave himself two racks from victory.
He took the next to reach the hill and then played a lovely cross bank on the 3 ball to set up the match winning run-out.
Bustamante now faces the winner of the Daryl Peach v Harry Stolka, the last match on Table 2 tonight.
When I started I was nervous but I was lucky to hit the ball when he had hooked me (in the fifth rack). I hope I will still have the game as I played today and hopefully I will be in the final, said Bustamante.
Pagulayan added: I’m not disappointed, I played a guy that I predicted would win the tournament and I lost to the right guy.