Billiards aces leaving RP for tempting Mideast offers

By June Navarro
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines?The lack of moneyed tournaments in the country is threatening to drive the country?s top cue artists to the Middle East.

Manager Perry Mariano Tuesday said former world champion Ronnie Alcano and several other star players who made the country proud in international tournaments have been receiving tempting offers overseas.

Mariano said the governments of Qatar, Kuwait, Dubai and Iran have been dangling offers starting at $3,000 (roughly P134,000) monthly for Alcano and company to teach national players in these countries.

?If my players decide to accept these offers, the national team will definitely be depleted,? said Mariano.

In fact, 2006 Asian Games gold medalist Antonio Gabica has already blazed the trail for his fellow pros when he recently accepted a job offer in Kuwait.

?The players are frustrated,? said Mariano, who handles at least 30 players, including Alcano, Dennis Orcullo and Roberto Gomez.

Alcano captured the 2006 World 9-Ball and 2007 World 8-Ball Championships.

?There?s no more opportunities for them here so they?re thinking of grabbing the opportunity in the Middle East.?

He said there are a few local tournaments to go by but these are not enough to sustain the livelihood of the players.

?If the government continues to turn a deaf ear on the plight of our billiard players, then might as well say goodbye to our world champions,? Mariano told the Inquirer.

Aside from the monthly salary, Mariano said housing, transportation and additional livelihood were also included in the offer.

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