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Tournament Coverage

Ready To Rumble!
by Mike Panozzo Jul 21, 2002, 2:05 PM EST

Strickland is almost unbeatable in major finals.

Both Earl Strickland and Francisco Bustamante arrived early to the Cardiff International Arena Sunday to loosen up before their title bout at the 2002 Hasseroder World Pool Championship. Looking focused and determined, Strickland drilled ball into the practice-table pockets with alarming accuracy.

"I feel good," said Strickland, America's hope for the country's first world title since Nick Varner's WPA win in Spain in 1999. The last U.S. player to win the world title with full world representation was Johnny Archer, who won in 1997. "At 41, I'm not going to get many more chances at this."

Several tables away from Strickland in the practice area, Bustamante, the 38-year-old Filipino, looked slightly more tentative during his warm-up regimen.

"I'll do my best," he said. "I hope we put on a good show. I'm going to try my hardest to win for my country and my daughter."

Bustamante's six-month-old daughter Mariel died suddenly on Friday in the Philippines.

The title match will be an extended race-to-17, winner-breaks format. The winner will earn $65,000 from the $300,000 prize fund. The runnerup will take home $30,000.

For complete Group standings, and Final 64 pairings, http://www.worldpoolchampionship.com/results.asp">click here:

Francicso Bustamante's emotional week comes to a head Sunday night.

Tournament Notes
Cardiff Insider
by Gary Baker

* ENTERING SUNDAY night's championship match, finalists Earl Strickland, of the USA, and Francisco Bustamante, of the Philippines, were separated by a single game in the Total Games Won column during the eight-day tournament. Totalling both their Group Stage and Final 64 matches, Bustamante had won 183 games, and Strickland 182. Strickland, however, had be the more decisive winner through the week, giving up a miserly 41 games total to his 12 opponents approximately 3.5 games per session! Bustamante's opponents managed a total of 51 games, 10 of them in his Round-of-16 nail-biter against countryman Antonio Lining.

* ODDSMAKERS STAN James has installed Francisco Bustamante as an 8-11 (almost 3-2) favorite to win the 2002 Hasseroder World Pool Championship Sunday night in Cardiff, Wales. Bettors wishing to choose America's Earl Strickland are getting even money.

* THE ODDSMAKERS would have done well to check their history books before installing Francisco Bustamante a favorite in Sunday night's finale against Earl Strickland. Strickland has never lost a world championship title match, winning two WPA titles, two Pro Billiard Tour 9-ball titles and a PBT world 8-ball crown. Additionally, Strickland is five-for-five in U.S. Open 9-Ball championship matches. "Nick Varner pointed out that of all the American players, Earl clearly has the best record in major tournament finals," said fellow U.S. player Charlie Williams. "He rarely finishes second in a tournament."

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