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Django off to big start; Bata falls in World 9-ball


HALL of Famer Francisco “Django” Bustamante drubbed Mario Morra, 9-5, Saturday to spearhead a strong Philippine charge at the start of the World 9-Ball Championship at Al-Arabi Sports Club in Doha, Qatar.

A winner of this tournament three years ago, Bustamante flashed fine form, making quick work of his American foe to join Taiwan’s Lo Li-wen, Alexander Kazakis of Germany and Manuel Gama of Portugal as the early winners in Group 11.

The 49-year-old Bustamante was among seven Filipino players who prevailed in their first-round encounters in the prestigious 128-player tournament.

But four other PH bets, including sentimental favorite Efren “Bata” Reyes, fell to the losers’ bracket in the $250,000 event.

Jeffrey De Luna dumped Poland’s Radoslaw Babica, 9-5, in Group 8, where compatriot Ramil Gallego toppled Qatari Khamis Obaidly, 9-3, while Antonio Gabica and Marlon Manalo also downed their respective foes in Group 2.

Gabica survived Sniegocki Mateusz, 9-7, in Group 2, while Manalo thumped Hunter Lombardo, 9-4.

Israel Rota overcame Xiang Hanhao of China, 9-5, in Group 10, but the other Filipino in the bracket, Recky Boy Puro, took a 6-9 loss to Mario He of Austria.

Raymond Faraon dumped Mohd Buainain of Qatar, 9-4, in Group 12.

Unable to recover from a slow start, Reyes took a 5-9 loss to Hsu Kai-lun of Chinese Taipei. Struggling with his break, Reyes fell behind, 0-6, before taking four straight racks to get within 4-6. But the Taiwanese finished off the Filipino legend by winning three of the next four frames.

Defending champion Darren Appleton opened his bid by dumping Dutchman Ivo Aarts, 9-5, while Mika Immonen of Finland, routed Naif Abdulafou of Jordan, 9-3, and Briton Chris Melling outgunned Filipino Carlo Biado, 9-5. Cedelf P. Tupas


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