Labeled under Philippine Team B, the Reyes–Bustamante combo struck gold after gutting out a hard-earned win against the formidable German duo of Ralf Souquet and Thorsten Hohmann, 11–9.
Man, that was an intense game! But even if I was just watching it on TV, i could feel the tension surrounding the place. The place would always erupt each time the Philippine team won a rack. I didn’t really follow the entire tournament outside of the games of both Philippine A and B. But I watched the 3-hour marathon last night from start to finish. That was probably the longest race to 11 billiards match I’ve seen ever. But it was worth it because of how intense the match went.
Both teams got to the Finals by winning their semis matches earlier in the afternoon. Bata and Django was first to claim victory by defeating their Chinese archrivals Fu Jian-bo and Li He-wen in another tight contest, 9–8. The next game saw the German team beat the other Philippine team of Ronnie Alcano and Dennis Orcollo, 9–6.
It seemed that the Django and Bata would cruise to victory after opening a 3–0 and 5–2 lead, despite consecutive illegal breaks (haven’t watched billiards for a long time so this rule was new to me). But a couple of bad breaks for the Philippine team gave Souquet and Hohmann the opportunity to tie the match at 5–5, then 6–6 before eventually taking the lead at 8–6.
It became very frustrating to watch the Philippine team at times because either their shots were rattling out of the pockets or the positioning for the next ball was off. I thought that maybe they just wanted to give each other a hard shot just to see one of them do a trick shot. But no, both players had a difficult time mastering the table and it didn’t help that the hometown cheers added more pressure to the two instead of relieving it.
Then finally, momentum shifted back to the Philippines during the 17th rack with Germany leading 9–7. Using superior tactics and finally getting some breaks, team Philippines managed to tie the game at 9. It was still a very evenly matched at this point because both teams were missing shots they normally make. Blame it on the weather (damn rains), fatigue or the crowd. Whatever it was, it was definitely affecting the players from both teams, even moreso Bata and Django.
I can’t remember the exact details but I think it was Hohmann’s turn at that time during the 19th rack when he missed the 4 or 5-ball. I’m not so sure. Anyway, the short story was that the Philippines took advantage to steal that rack. Afterwards, Bata let out a hilarious sigh of relief. Hehe. That guy really cracks me up. Just watching him move around the pool table is enough to draw a crowd. He was so ecstatic to win the 19th rack that he needed to remind himself and Django that they still need one more. But you can see how relieved he felt after that rack, giving high fives to everyone who wanted one.
During the final rack, team Germany was still able to get back on the table. Unfortunately, Souquet, I think, missed the 6-ball that allowed Django and Bata to clean the table.
It was really nostalgic watching these two legends back in action. Like I said, it’s been a long while since I’ve watched them play, or a billiards match, for that matter. I really lost track of the game when Bata semi-retired. So seeing this match was a treat, especially considering how the game went. You could just feel the intensity of the game even while watching in from a couch, especially when both teams were trying to hide the ball.
You had Mr. Jumping Ball Thorsten Hohmann versus Mr. Push Ball Django Bustamante. If this was done in Germany, those shots by Hohmann would have made the crowd nuts. On the other hand, he was responsible for most of Germany’s miscues. Meanwhile, Django and Bata’s superior table play was evident when they were perfectly hiding the balls from the cue. To borrow Smart’s tagline: Simply Amazing! Then Bata hit a couple of trick shots, one that banked twice, the other thrice. And the crowd went wild!
I think rack 15 or 17 went on for like 20 or 30 minutes. I could only imagine how exhausting it was for all four players to participate in a grueling match like that, particularly for the 55-year-old Bata and the 45-year-old Django. On the other hand, Souquet is 41, while Hohmann is 30. A couple of rules made the game more interesting and contributed to the crazy intensity that enveloped the entire SM City North Edsa Annex Building: the illegal break and the 40-second shot clock. Even the players were a bit confused on what an illegal break was.
Anyway, congrats again to Bata and Django, the first two-time champions of the event. They also took home the championship in the inaugural year of the World Cup of Pool in 2006, beating the US team of Earl Strickland and Rodney Morris.
It’s always good to see Bata and Django win, even better seeing them win together, especially when you get to see Bata jiggy with his stick after the last rack. Kekeke. That made my day indeed. That and his interview afterwards.
Thanks to the Philippine Star for the pic.