KAOHSIUNG, TAIWAN, July 7, 2005 
(STAR) Defending champion Alex Pagulayan and Rodolfo Luat fashioned out victories to advance to the final 32 of the 2005 World Pool Championship but Francisco "Django" Bustamante got the boot from local bet Chang Jung Ling yesterday at the Kaohsiung Business Exhibition Center here.

Pagulayan beat Park Shin Young of Korea, 10-5, at the start of the knockout phase of the event which drew the best pool players in the world with Luat joining the Fil-Canadian with a 10-1 rout of Vietnam’s Luong Chi Dung.

But Bustamante, runner-up in the 2002 edition of this annual tournament, blew a 5-1 lead as Chang fought back by taking the next seven racks. The power-breaking Filipino managed to draw level at 8 but fumbled in the 17th rack.

Chang, a 20-year-old qualifier, pounced on that Bustamante miscue as he won the next two racks to snatch the victory and a place in the last 32 of this $350,000 event.

Earlier, five other Filipinos moved on to the knockout phase late Tuesday night but without top player Efren "Bata" Reyes, who failed to make it past the elims stage owing to a sputtering start.

Despite winning his final two matches against Mike Davis of the United States and Tony Drago of Malta, Reyes, the 1999 champion, was ousted along with Antonio "Nikoy" Lining. The 50-year-old Reyes entered the final day of the group stage needing two victories for himself and two losses each by both Davis and Indonesian Adam Abdurahim. Reyes did what he needed to do on his part, but his Group 4 foes thwarted the Filipino pool legend’s hopes as Davis split his two assignments while Abdurahim swept both his matches. Lining sealed his fate by winning only two out of his seven matches.

Pagulayan had won his last three matches including a 5-3 triumph over local bet Cheng Chong Hua to top Group 1.The top four players from each group automatically advanced to the final 64.

Joining Pagulayan in the round of 64 are Marlon Manalo, Warren Kiamco, Dennis Orcullo, Ronnie Alcano and Gandy Valle.

Manalo, who became the first Filipino to advance, was scheduled to take on Charles Bryant of the United States.

Kiamco was to clash with David Reljic of Australia while Group 5 top finisher Orcullo was to collide with Wang Hua Fong of Taiwan.

Alcano and Valle, both leg winners in the recent San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour, were due for match-ups against former world champion Thortsen Hohmann of Germany and Do Huang Quan of Vietnam, respectively.

Host Chinese Taipei dominated the group stage as 16 out their 19 representatives advanced to the round of 64. The Taiwanese assault was led by two—time champion Chao Fong Pang and Yang Ching Shin.

Other favorites who moved on to the final 64 include former champions Mika Immonen of Finland and Earl Strickland of the United States, Kunihiko Takahashi of Japan and Johnny Archer of the United States.

One hundred and twenty-eight of the world’s best cue artists are competing in Kaohsiung for the top prize of $ 75,000 (P4.2 million).

The 2005 World Pool Championship will run until July 10. The event is organized by Match Room and broadcasted over ESPN. ESPN will be devoting over 60 hours of live and exclusive coverage of the world’s biggest and most prestigious pool competition.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved