PH player: King of Pool no more? | Inquirer Sports
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PH player: King of Pool no more?

/ 10:59 PM October 30, 2011

I dread the day when the Filipino billiards player is no longer king of pool. Still, recent events would show they could be true.
Once considered the most-feared assembly of players in the world of pool, that tag is slowly being ruined by recent shock setbacks suffered by several highly regarded Filipino pros—including former world champions—in major international tournaments.
To wit:
World No. 1 and recently crowned World 8-Ball champion Dennis Orcollo lost to many-time world titlist Ralf Souquet of Germany in the World Pool Masters championship showdown last August. Earlier in the week, Orcollo, the unassuming 32-year-old former fisherman from Surigao del Norte, partnered with Ronnie Alcano in the World Cup of Pool where they were eliminated by Chinese Taipei’s Ko Pin-yi and his brother, Ko Ping-chung.
A mainstay of Bugsy Promotions, Orcollo will be seeking revenge against Souquet anew in a “Face Off Series” which gets going on Nov. 5 at the Pagcor Airport Casino in Parañaque City.
Puyat Sports’ Efren “Bata” Reyes and longtime pool partner Francisco “Django” Bustamante, who topped the inaugural World Cup tournament in 2006 and, later the 2009 edition, were also booted out by the red-hot Souquet and Thorsten Hohmann, the 2011 Philippine Open kingpin in the same tournament.
Last week, in this year’s staging of the prestige-laden US 9-Ball Open, Alex Pagulayan, the heartbreak Fil-Canadian kid, made his early presence felt but suffered losses in two crucial matches that counted the most.
A past winner of the World 9-Ball Pool Championship and US Open, Pagulayan lost to eventual winner Darren Appleton of Great Britain, 7-11, in the winners’ bracket and then to Shawn Putnam of the United States, 8-11, in the losers’ bracket.
The Philippines has been long regarded as a hotbed of billiards following the extraordinary exploits of Amang Parica, once considered the best Filipino pool player of his time; and, much later, the great “Bata” Reyes and the never-say-die “Django” Bustamante, who both gave respect and recognition to the sport while under the patronage of brothers Jose “Popit” and Aristeo “Putch” Puyat.
However, the emergence of players from Europe could be the biggest threat to the Filipino pool pros.
For example, lightly regarded Huidji See of The Netherlands nipped crowd favorite Fu Jianbo of China, 11-8, to capture the WPA World 10-Ball Championship last May. See pocketed $60,000 (about P2.7 million)—the biggest paycheck in his flourishing career.
With his sterling triumph, the 29-year-old soft-spoken See joined previous World 10-Ball champions, including fellow Europeans Mika Immonen of Finland, who prevailed in 2010, and Britain’s Darren Appleton, who bagged the crown during the inaugural tournament in 2008.
If we do not want to relinquish the Philippines’ hard-earned place of honor in pro pool, I say we need to accelerate the development of new talents who could take over from Reyes and other present crops, who are not getting any younger, when the time comes for them to permanently sheath their cues.
* * *
I would like to offer a toast to Mario Villamor Jr., son of sportsman-businessman Mario Villamor Sr., for winning the third prize in an essay-writing competition under the auspices of Georgetown University.
A Master of Science Candidate in Global Affairs at New York University, Villamor’s winning essay discussed the Spratlys Islands controversy: “Conflict to Peace: Innovative approaches to Conflict Resolution.” The winners were selected by the university’s faculty.

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TAGS: Billiards, Dennis Orcollo, Efren Bata Reyes, Francisco Django Bustamante, Pool, Ralf Souquet, Ronnie Alcano, Sports

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