Filipinos excel in Billiards

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

EFREN REYES & FRANCISCO BUSTAMANTE LIFT THE CUP Philippines have become the first ever winners of the World Cup of Pool. The Filipino pairing of Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante claimed the trophy and top prize of $60,000 (about £32,000) with a 13-5 victory against USA in front of a crowd of more than 800 people.

A delighted Bustamante said: “This is a very important tournament and we are happy and very proud to win the first World Cup. In the beginning of the match there was a lot of pressure on us but when we went three games ahead it all lifted.

“Efren played lots of unbelievable shots - some of them I’ve never seen in my life - and that’s why we won. When he plays perfect and I play well we knew we had a great chance and it’s a great feeling to be World Cup of Pool champions.”

Reyes added: “It’s funny that every time there is a new big tournament I win it but all week I thought if we could get to the final then we could win.

“The USA are a good team but they were unlucky and that made it easy for us. The support of the fans was brilliant, they’ve come from all over Britain and have looked after us all week.”

The tournament ended in poor fashion for the Americans and Morris summed up how he and Strickland were feeling.

“That was pretty disappointing,” said Morris. “After 4-4 it didn’t go our way although the match was closer than the score suggested. But when it went to 7-4 we were both pretty deflated and felt it slipping away.

“We never really got a clear shot off the break and it was a tough hill to climb but they played great – the way they were supposed to so congratulations to them.”

The majority of the spectators at the Newport Centre were cheering on number one seeds Philippines and they had an early chance to go in front as they won the lag.

Reyes was soon forced to play safe on the 1-ball but Morris scratched on the next shot to give Philippines ball in hand as they soon moved into a 1-0 lead.

It quickly became 3-0 when Strickland scratched on his break in the second before Philippines broke and ran in the third. The tournament had seen a large number of fightbacks and the final was no exception as USA, who were seeded three, then took the next three to square the match.

They broke and ran in the fourth and sixth racks while USA took advantage of a rare Reyes miss, when he failed to sink the orange five, to claim the fifth. But Philippines won two of the next three to edge 5-4 in front in what was a top-class encounter, being played in a passionate atmosphere.

The turning point of the match came in the tenth rack when a mistake by Morris saw him leave the 1-ball hanging over the pocket as the score moved to 6-4.

With the alternate break format, it was always going to be a tough task for America to fight their way back into the match again but with the crowd against them and the Filipino duo in top form it became a near-impossible mission.

The Philippines' lead was restored to three again after a fine safety from Bustamante forced an error from their opponents before a stunning kick-shot on the brown seven by Reyes helped make it 8-4.

Bata then infuriated Strickland by playing a shot one-handed but the plan worked as Morris’ next shot missed with the 1-ball in open play and it was 9-4.

The Americans were rattled and when Morris scratched in the next Philippines were closing in on the title with a comfortable 10-4 lead. They won the next and even though USA finally ended the Filipino duo’s run of seven successive racks, it had no effect on the outcome.

With Strickland becoming more and more agitated by the partisan crowd, mistakes were drifting into the Americans’ play and, to the majority of the spectators’ delight, Philippines took the next two racks to become World Champions.