Legendary cue masters Efren “Bata” Reyes and Francisco “Django” Bustamante will banner the Philippine contingent to the 2014 World 9-Ball Championship to be held at the Al Saad Sports Club in Doha, Qatar.
Reyes and Bustamante are aiming to reclaim their glory days in the tournament sanctioned by the World Pool-Billiard Association. Reyes was the first Filipino champion in the World 9-Ball, topping the 1999 edition held in Wales while Bustamante dominated the 2010 edition also staged in Doha.
Joining Reyes and Bustamante are 2013 runner-up Antonio Gabica, Lee Vann Corteza, Dennis Orcollo, Carlo Biado, Jeffrey de Luna, Johann Chua, Jeffrey Ignacio and Warren Kiamco.
The Group Stage will begin on June 21. The 128 players will be divided into 16 groups (eight players each group) with a double-elimination/race-to-9 format.
The top four players in each group will advance to the knockout stage (race-to-11). The final showdown will be a race-to-13 affair.
A whopping $200,000 in cash prize is up for grabs in this tournament. The champion gets $30,000 and the runner-up receives $15,000.
Among the top players to show up are defending champion Thorsten Hohmann and Ralf Soquet of Germany, Darren Appleton, Chris Melling, Karl Boyes and Daryl Peach of England; Neils Feijen, Nick van den Berg and Huidji See of the Netherlands; Mika Immonen of Finland; Shane Van Boening and Corey Deuel of US, Wang Can, Wu Jiaqing and Li He Wen of China; and Ko Pin Yi, Chang Yu Ling and Chang Jung Lin of Taiwan.
Overall, the Philippines has three World 9-Ball winners. Besides Reyes and Bustamante, Ronnie Alcano also reigned supreme when Manila hosted the 2006 edition.