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The OTHER Bustamante: Joven Plows into WPC’s Top Eight
Nov 9, 2007, 6:29 AM

MANILA, Philippines – In his first six months as a full-time professional 9-ball player, and at his first World Pool Championship, 29-year-old Joven Bustamante has broken into the round-of-8.

Bustamante – no relation to his Filipino countryman Francisco Bustamante – slipped past Japan’s Satoshi Kawabata, 11-9, on Friday afternoon at the Araneta Coliseum to reach the WPC’s round of 8. On Saturday, he’ll play another first-timer at the international 9-ball meet – Karl Boyes of England.

Bustamante was working as a house pro at a poolhall in the Kuwait this year when he finished tied-for third at the World 8-Ball Championship, losing to Dennis Orcollo in the semifinals. He was invited by Orcollo’s Philippines-based manager, Bugsy Promotions, to join their stable of up-and-coming Filipino players. He accepted.

“My sponsor in Kuwait would not send me to big international events like this,” he said. “So, I decided to go back to the Philippines.”

His first international trip under Bugsy’s wing took him to the Korean International Championships in July. He promptly won it.

Now he’s three matches away from accomplishing the same feat at the World Pool Championship. After making it through the group stage, he faced nemesis Orcollo in the round-of-64. After falling behind 5-1, he gutted out a 10-6 victory.

In the next round, he got off to a strong start against 2005 champion Wu Chia-ching and hung on for a 10-8 win.

“Those two victories gave me a lot of confidence,” said Bustamante, who is well-known in Filipino pool circles for having a lot of heart. “Before the tournament, my target was the top 8 or the semifinals, but now that I am in the top 8, my target is to make the final.”