by Mike Panozzo Jul 18, 2003, 1:27 PM EST
Countrymen Reyes (left) and Bustamante (right) delighted a sell-out crowd Friday in Cardiff.
With millions looking on anxiously in the Philippines, cue legends Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante treated a sold-out Cardiff International Arena crowd to a dazzling display of creative shot-making, imaginative safety play and miraculous escapes in their round of 16 match-up at the 2003 empirepoker.com World Pool Championship in Wales. And as was expected, the match see-sawed into the late stages, when Bustamante took an 8-7 lead and pulled away to an 11-8 win.
Bustamante appeared to be in control early when, with a 5-3 lead, he played a successful combination on the 9 for an apparent 6-3 advantage. But referee Nigel Reese contended that Bustamante’s cue glanced off an object ball and called a foul. Reyes seized the opportunity and eventually held leads of 6-5 and 7-6. But the luckless former champion came up dry on the ensuing break, and Bustamante ran that rack and the next two for a 9-7 lead. In the final game, Bustamante caught a fortunate carom off a kick on the 1, bumping the 9 into the side pocket for sudden victory. An almost embarrassed Bustamante spun around, putting his hand on Reese’s shoulder and laughing at his good fortune.
"I got unlucky on the break," said Reyes, who scratched off the break twice in the match. "And Francisco played good. But I don’t think I played too well in this tournament. I never really held control of the cue ball."
Bustamante moves into the quarterfinal Saturday, where he’ll meet the winner of the Luc Salvas/Thorsten Hohmann match.
Also Friday, budding star Ching-Shun Yang of Chinese Taipei followed his pattern of racing away from his opponent with an 11-5 thumping of 2001 champion Mika Immonen of Finland. With the score tied at 4-4, Yang unleashed his thunderous break – one time making five balls - and raced to a 10-4 lead.
"I think I have a good chance of winning here," said the 25-year-old Asian No. 1, who reached the semifinal in 2002 before losing to Bustamante. "I’ve improved a lot since last year, and I can handle the pressure better now."
Canadian Alex Pagulayan, dubbed "The Killer Pixie" by Sky Sports commentator Sid Waddell, also advanced to the final eight Friday with a convincing 11-4 win over Ramil Gallego of the Philippines, while Korea’s Sin-Young Park dashed Dutchman Alex Lely’s hopes with an 11-5 decision.
"I played just about perfect," said the 25-year-old Philippine-born shooter, whose only major pro tour win came at the 1999 Sands Open in Reno, Nev. "And if I keep playing like that, making balls on the break, I have as good a chance to win it all as anyone."
Friday night’s marquee match-up will pit snooker legend Steve Davis against defending champ Earl Strickland, America’s last remaining player.
For complete Group standings, and Final 64 pairings, visit: http://www.worldpoolchampionship.com/results.asp
The powerful Yang has his sights set on the world crown.