Bustamante Plays On
by Mike Panozzo Jul 19, 2002, 5:45 PM EST
Francisco Bustamante, wearing a black arm band, overcame Antonio Lining, 11-10, Friday night.
Displaying a lion's heart and incredible concentration, Francisco Bustamante scored an emotional 11-10 win over fellow Philippine player Antonio Lining Friday evening at the 2002 Hasseroder World Pool Championship in Cardiff, Wales.
Bustamante, who opted to stay in Cardiff and continue his quest for the world title after learning earlier in the day that his six-month-old daughter, Mariel, had died suddenly, looked listless early in the final-16 match-up. Lining, using a powerful break and errorless pool, broke to leads of 9-5 and 10-6. But an empty break in the 17th game gave life to Bustamante, who proceeded to run the next four racks to tie the contest at 10-10. As Bustamante closed the gap, fans began diverting their attention from the Center Court tilt between Earl Strickland and Jeremy Jones to the mezzanine matchup.
At 10-10, Bustamante was unsuccessful on the break, but Lining botched position on the 3, and scratch on his kick attempt. Facing an open table, Bustamante worked carefully to the win. The crowd, swept up in the emotion of the match, burst into loud cheers as the normally happy-go-lucky Bustamante bowed his head and quietly packed up his cue.
"It was very difficult to play," said Bustamante afterwards, as friends and strangers alike streamed up to offer congratulations. "At the beginning of the match, I felt nothing. Like air. But later in the match, I concentrated and told myself, 'You can still win.' I couldn't believe I didn't make a ball on the break in the last game, but Antonio gave me another chance."
"I have known Francisco for many years," said Lining. "I'm so sad for him. It made it very difficult to play, but of course I tried my best to win."
Bustamante moves on to play the winner of the Efren Reyes/Oliver Ortmann match, which started late Friday evening.
In the other early evening match, Strickland overcame several sloppy mistakes and a pair of tight shoes to topple American countryman Jones, 11-8, and keep his hopes of becoming the first three-time WPA world champ alive.
"Was that the most pitiful match ever?" Strickland said, laughing, after the match. "I haven't played that bad since I got here. It was a comedy of errors. We both missed three or four incredibly easy shots.
"I've played great all week," said Strickland, who has adopted a square-to-the-table snooker stance during the event. "I think it must be nerves at this point."
The match seesawed to 5-5, when Strickland sent fellow quarterfinalist Johnny Archer scurrying to his hotel room for a pair of replacement shoes. From there Strickland built an 8-5 lead, and traded games with Jones until his run-out in the final rack secured the 11-8 win.
Was it the shoes?
"My other shoes were too stiff and too tight," said Strickland.
Strickland will face Japan's Kunihiko Takahashi in quarterfinals of the $300,000 championship on Saturday.
*** In the evening's final two matches, Chinese Taipei's No.1 player, Ching-Shun Yang, outlasted Japan's young Hiroshi Takenaka, 11-7, and Filipino superstar Efren Reyes trounced hapless Oliver Ortmann of Germany, 11-5.
Efren Reyes (Phi) v Francisco Bustamante (Phi)
Johnny Archer (USA) v Ching-Shun Yang (ChiTap)
Earl Strickland (USA) v Kunihiko Takahashi (Jap)
Marcus Chamat (Swe) v Takeshi Okumura (Jap)
For complete Group standings, and Final 64 pairings, http://www.worldpoolchampionship.com/results.asp">click here:
Tournament NotesCardiff Insider
* While well-wishers streamed by to offer their condolences, Francisco Bustamante expressed continued disbelief in the sudden and tragic loss of his six-month-old daughter, Mariel.
"I can't believe she died" said the 38-year-old Filipino, pulling a photograph of the child from his wallet. "Look at her. She's beautiful. When I left the Philippines on July 10, she was very healthy."
Bustamante received the news early Friday from his wife, Mila.
"My wife said Mariel had the flu, but the doctor said she was okay," said Bustamante. "This morning when my wife went to wake the baby, the baby was white. She died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
"At first, I just wanted to go home," he continued. "But I talked to my wife and to my sponsor, Mr. Jose Puyat. They said I could do whatever I want, but it is over and there is nothing I can do at home. I decided to stay on and play for my country.
"When I came here, I was mentally ready to win the world championship, because it is very important to me. Now it's changed, but I will play on and try my best."