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Quarterfinal Primer: Bustamantes and Blackpudlians Dominate WPC
Nov 9, 2007, 10:17 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Francisco Bustamante, runner-up at the World Pool Championship in 2002, is the favorite in this year’s edition of the international 9-ball meet now that the field has narrowed to the last eight players.

Bustamante clobbered 2004 champion and fellow Filipino Alex Pagulayan, 11-2, in the most hotly anticipated match of the day on Friday at the Araneta Coliseum. He will headline play when quarterfinal action starts on Saturday, and odds-makers have installed him as the best bet at 7-to-4.

Bustamante will be joined in the quarterfinal by Joven Bustamante (no relation), a relatively unknown Filipino who has surprised the field with gutty play. And in a major coup for England, two residents of the seaside resort town of Blackpool have advanced to the final: Daryl Peach and Karl Boyes.

Here are the match-ups for the quarterfinals, set to begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Manila time:

Top of the Bracket:
Mika Immonen (Finland) vs. Vilmos Foldes (Hungary)
Francisco Bustamante (Philippines) vs. Daryl Peach (England)

Bottom of the Bracket:
Joven Bustamante (Philippines) vs. Karl Boyes (England)
Kuo Po-cheng (Taiwan) vs. Roberto Gomez (Philippines)

In his match with Bustamante, Pagulayan barely had a chance after losing the lag. Bustamante had the TV table clocked from the beginning, sinking balls with a soft break and leaving himself elementary patterns for runouts. Even when presented with a difficult shot, he nailed it – like a three-rail kick that sank a 5 ball early in the match and energized the crowd.

“That is the way it goes; that’s pool,” said Pagulayan. “He played good. He deserved to win.”

After missing a 9 ball in the ninth rack, Pagulayan took a seat and watched most of the rest of the match. He threw out the towel before Bustamante could sink the final 9. The two friends embraced warmly, and Pagulayan proceeded to wrestle on the arena floor with Bustamante’s son, Francisco Jr.

“I played a guy who I predicted was going to win the tournament before it started,” Pagulayan said. “I lost to the right guy. I’m just going to see him in the parking lot later. Maybe I’ll ask him for some money.”

Joven Bustamante and quarterfinal opponent Boyes are both first-timers at the WPC. Bustamante beat Japan’s Satoshi Kawabata, 11-9, on Friday, while Boyes defeated Europe’s top player, Konstantin Stepanov from Russia, 11-4.

“I’m still in shock,” said Boyes after the win. An English 8-ball player, Boyes only took up 9-ball a year ago, and cut his teeth on the EuroTour.

He’s joined in the quarterfinals by Peach, a fellow resident of Blackpool, England. Peach defeated the sole remaining German hope, Harald Stolka, 11-5.

“It’s just a coincidence, really,” 35-year-old Peach said of the confluence of Blackpudlians in the quarterfinals. “To be fair, we are two of the best players in Great Britain. But we’re the only two pool players in Blackpool.”

English players have reached the quarterfinals of the WPC only twice before. Never have two reached that level in the same year.

Kuo won a sloppy match with American Cory Deuel on the TV table, as neither player could get a handle on the break. Deuel, who was suffering from flu-like symptoms before the match, hung with Kuo early, but the Taiwanese began pulling away at 5-5. Deuel seemed to fall apart in the late stages with a couple poorly executed shots, and lost, 11-7. He said afterward that he still felt sick to his stomach during the match.

Immonen defeated Alain Martel of Canada, 11-8, by claiming the final three games of the match. Foldes dominated a fellow former world juniors champion, Lu Hui-chan of Taiwan, 11-5.

In the final match of Friday night, Gomez barbecued Niels Feijen of the Netherlands, 11-0. Nicknamed “Superman” for his barrel-chested physique and wavy “S” curve in his black hair, Gomez battered Feijen with an uninterrupted four-rack run on the way to a 6-0 lead. And it only got worse. When Feijen would get to the table – typically to answer a Gomez safety – he often would leave an open shot for his opponent.

Gomez, 29, may be the most dangerous player left in the tournament. He has displayed the kind of imagination and position play of a young Efren Reyes, and has outscored his opponents 31-3 in his last three matches on the TV table.