(STAR) By Joey Villar - Francisco "Django" Bustamante fashioned out victories over Mika Immonen of Finland and Johnny Archer of the United States in varying fashions to capture the fifth US Pro Tour Championship crown at the Normandie Casino in Los Angeles, California Sunday.

Bustamante, who with Efren "Bata" Reyes skipped the second BSCP National Pool Championships to play in the US event, demolished Immonen, a former world pool champion, 7-4, to claim the hot seat but struggled against Archer in the final, needing to fight back from a 3-6 deficit in the alternate break format to win last four games and the title.

The power-breaking Bustamante, who teamed up with Reyes to cop the inaugural World Cup crown in Wales last year, took the $10,000 (around P480,000) purse, about the same prize which Lee Van Corteza received when he topped the national pool tilt recently.

On his way to the final, Bustamante, dominated James Burt, Mike Davis, Tony Crosby, Fabio Petroni and Archer, allowing his opponents no more than five games in the race to 11 format.

The second-seeded Immonen, a frequent Manila visitor, was relegated to the loserís bracket against Archer, who hurdled Raj Hundal, 11-9, and Robb Saez, 7-2, to barge into the semifinals. Archer then booted out Immonen, 7-4, to set up a rematch with Bustamante, who earlier won over the former, 11-4, for the crown.

The American ace actually came out smoking, moving one rack away from wrapping up the championship after racing to a 6-3 lead.

But Bustamante, whose average losing margin was 3.14 racks heading to the final, suddenly came alive and sustained his fight back while pouncing on Archerís miscues to pound out the victory.

It was Bustamanteís first title this year but the victory further underscoring the Filipinosí domination of the sport after Ronnie Alcano ruled the world 8-ball and 9-ball championships and the World Cup feat of Reyes and Bustamante.

Reyes, the former world pool champion and the most revered player in the sport, bowed out early after losing to Ronnie Wiseman, 10-11, and Tony Crosby, 9-11.

The last four matches were cut to race-to-seven instead of race-to-11 because of late decision by organizers to tape it for ESPN, an international sports cable channel.

Meanwhile, Rubilen Amit, Iris Ranola and Mary Ann Basas, the countryís top three pool players, left on separate flights to compete in the Amway World Womenís Pool Championship in Chinese Taipei.

Amit, one of the four Filipino triple gold medallists in the 2005 Manila Southeast Asian Games, left early yesterday and assured of a spot in the main draw after finishing in the top 24 last year, also in Taiwan.

Ranola, who topped the womenís side of the BSCP-sanctioned event, and Basas left Sunday since they would need to play in the three-day qualifiers to make it to the main draw.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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