Francisco “Django” Bustamante came up with a near-flawless performance in holding off Roberto Gomez, 11-7, in the finals to rule the Manny Villar Cup Panagbenga leg on Sunday night at the Events Center of SM City in Baguio City.
The win ended a barren spell for the 44-year-old Bustamante, who has not won a big event since winning the Master of the Table plum in the 2007 Derby City Classic.
“I’m very happy for this win, because this event is one of the toughest not just here in the Philippines but in the whole world,” said the pride of Tarlac, who never made it past the quarterfinals in any of the Manny Villar Cup legs last year.
After splitting the first six racks with both players holding, Bustamante scored on Gomez’s break after the latter was forced to play a safety on a difficult layout.
That ignited a 6-2 run that gave Bustamante a 9-5 lead.
Gomez, runner-up in the 2007 World Pool Championship, managed to close in at 9-7 but that proved to be his last stand, as Bustamante broke and ran out the 17th frame and won a battle of safety shots in the next games to close out the match and bag P300,000.
“You are a hero of this nation and we are very proud of you,” Senator Villar told Bustamante during the awarding ceremony.
Villar, who launched the island-hopping series last year, also lauded teenage bet Rene Mar David for his third-place finish.
“I’m happy to see that our young players like Rene Mar are slowly catching up with our superstars as it shows that we are achieving our main objective in putting up this Villar Cup, which is to develop more world-class pool players and continue our dominance in the sport,” added Villar.
David, the 19-year-old upstart from Candon, Ilocos Sur, won his first three matches, including a mammoth upset of pool icon Efren “Bata” Reyes in the second round, before bowing to Bustamante, 10-8, in the semifinals.
Gomez, who was trying to become the first two-time Villar Cup winner, settled for the runner-up prize of P120,000, while David and other losing semifinalist Warren Kiamco took home P40,000 each. The series, backed by Camella Communities, visits Lucena City next month.
Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines president Vic Rodriguez also said Villar will be the chief backer of the national championship they are organizing.