Like fine wine Filipino pool legend Django Bustamante just seems to get better as the years go by. Bustamante added another crown to his already huge collection after grabbing the Master of Table crown in the 15th Annual Derby City Classic (DCC) at the Horseshoe Casino and Hotel in Elizabeth, Indiana, USA, recently.
The Derby City Classic is more than just a tournament. It is a week-long festival and celebration of pool. It is held annually in Louisville, Kentucky and offers various disciplines to compete. It is a unique tournament because it welcomes a wide spectrum of competitors from world class athletes professionals, to ladies, to relative neophytes in the sport.
Bustamante won $20,000 for winning the All Around of The Master of the Table Crown. He also dominated the 9-Ball Banks and settled for second in the One Pocket division which was won by American Corey Deuel.
The 49-year-old Tarlac native started playing billiards seriously when he was 12 years old. He focused on the sport and never finished high school. He says that he travelled the province to find competition. When he beat everyone at home he travelled the country. Nowadays, he travels the world.
Bustamante’s latest world titles are the 2010 World 9-Ball Championship which he pocketed in Doha, Qatar. In 2009 he partnered with another Filipino pool legend Efren Reyes to win the World Cup of Pool.
Bustamante is the youngest in a brood of eight. He got his name from friends who said his scrappy nature reminded them of the lead character in Spaghetti Western movies Django.
His took care of his families by doing everything from building toilets to planting rice by hand. He was introduced to pool when his sister made him watch her pool hall. As a scrawny boy of 10 he helped around by racking up and spotting balls on the tables. Late in the evenings he practiced alone after the hall closed.
The tournament has grown every year and is fast becoming an institution of sorts since its inception in 1997. Diamond Billiard Products, makers of Diamond-brand pool tables, the official table of the US Open Nine-ball Championship, is the titular sponsor of the event.
Competitors participate in three major disciplines: bank pool, nine-ball, and one-pocket. An All-Around Champion title is awarded each year to an individual player who participates in all three disciplines. The winner is determined by an ascending point scale.
Another Filipino excelled in the week-long pool jousts. Alex “The Lion” Pagulayan proved too much for Shawn Putnam. He topped the 9-Ball Division and went home with the top prize after beating the American, 9-6. Dennis “Robocop” Orcollo made sure the Philippine tri-colors hogged center stage after beating Niels “Terminator” Feijen of the Netherlands, 11-9, in the “Big Foot” 10-Ball Challenge.
The tournament wasn’t just for the world-class professionals There were also age-group competitions for under-16, over-21, over-62, and over-70 divisions, as well as a tournament for the ladies.
Pool industry merchandisers even got the chance to sell their wears with organizers allowing them to set up vendor booths for a billiard expo for the attendees. The vendor booths showcased a large variety of merchandise from sticks, to pool paraphernalia, to billiard clothing, to books, and even instructional DVDs.
Bustamante, Pagulayan and Orcollo are supported by Puyat Sports, Bugsy International Promotions and Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines (BMPAP).