Southeast Asian Games gold medalists Dennis Orcollo and Iris Rañola could end up missing their title defenses in the Myanmar SEA Games in November after billiards officials announced recently that they would tap a new group of players to represent the country.
Billiards and Snookers Congress of the Philippines president Arturo Ilagan said old faces in the national pool are in danger of losing their slots after they refused to join the program for “priority athletes” of the Philippine Sports Commission.
Ilagan informed the PSC of the BSCP move in a letter dated Dec. 26, 2012.
The former Gintong Alay project director said he was forced to revamp the team after Orcollo, Rañola and other top cue aces ignored the association’s directive to submit themselves to the program.
The PSC earlier identified 185 “priority” athletes whose training and allowances they would finance for the Myanmar SEA Games.
The athletes will be required to train full time and cannot take other jobs to avail themselves of the P40,000 monthly allowance as well as budget for foreign stints and training.
As professional players, Rañola and Orcollo cannot focus on the national team full-time.
Rañola bagged the women’s 8-ball and 9-ball golds in 2011 Indonesia while Orcollo ruled the men’s 8-ball event.
“I understand they cannot go full-time because they have their own managers, program and training,” Ilagan told the Inquirer. “That’s the reason why they don’t want to sign up.”
The ejection of Orcollo, Rañola and the others from the national pool does not sit well with the PSC, however.
“Personally, I think it is a wrong move,” said PSC chair Richie Garcia. “But then again, it’s a decision of the president of national sports association and they are independent.”
The BSCP is hounded by a leadership struggle between Ilagan and billiards “godfather” Aristeo “Putch” Puyat.
“The POC should take action because billiards is a priority sport,” Garcia said.
“We will settle the matter with the Philippine Olympic Committee,” said Puyat.