A Sad Misuse of a Pool Legend

Response of Yen Makabenta to Efren Reyes' Statement in AZBilliards

The statement issued yesterday (May 8) by Efren Reyes is one more example of the misuse of players by certain unscrupulous managers to hit at the Billiards & Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) and Raya Sports, and the leadership of the billiards community in our country.

It is a desperate attempt to deflect widespread media criticism here of Sen. Manny Villar for his misguided decision to put up a personal tournament on the same dates (May 6-11) as the Mandaluyong Mayor's Cup of the Philippine Pool Tour, an international tournament that had long been in the pool calendar.

It seeks to head off a Philippine Senate inquiry that will look into the actions and inaction of the Games and Amusement Board, which has abused its powers in interfering in the work of the BSCP in its billiards program and has been remiss in its duties to stop practices of illegal gambling and tournament rigging in our sport.

It rehashes verbatim wild allegations by BMPAP officials that have already been shown to be baseless and untruthful. The suggestion that we have personally reaped financial windfalls from our support of billiards through Raya is totally off tangent since we still have to turn the smallest profit from our investments of time and resources.

Our record at the BSCP and Raya Sports since we became active in our sport in 2005 speaks for itself. We have put our country in the very center of international pool. We have brought to Manila the prestigious World Pool Championship twice, in 2006 and 2007. We have held officially two national men's championship, one national women's championship, and two national juniors championship. We have pioneered in the broadcast of a weekly billiards TV program. We have created various projects for the development of billiards all over our country. As a consequence, there are more players, more fans and more supporters of our sport today than in previous years and decades.

I am saddened to see Efren being used -- and allowing himself to be used -- as an instrument to blacken the name of someone who personally helped him rise to the top of Philippine billiards. Documentary records will show, and witnesses can attest, that I championed as a magazine editor, journalist and billiards patron his career as a player in all those years when no manager and no sponsor would recognize him as the real Filipino pool champion. And I did not take or make a single cent off him for my efforts.

In our work at BSCP since I became its chairman in 2005 and our work in Raya, we have at no time ever been the recipient of the favors of Efren. In the one time when he was offered by his manager to play for our country in the Southeast Asian Games (in 2005), he pulled out at the last hour to play instead in the lucrative International Pool Tour in the United States. So we find it incredible and shabby that he should be suggesting that we ever exploited him as a player.

In all the tournaments and events that Raya and BSCP have mounted, Efren made it a point never to participate because of the dictates of his manager, Aristeo Puyat. In the two world championships that he joined – the 2006 and 2007 WPCs – his manager made it a point to say that he was only joining because Matchroom Sports was running the show. And he has not said one word in praise of all that we were doing for our sport in our country – so we can't even owe him that.

Behind this controversy that has cast a cloud on Philippine pool is the naked attempt of player managers to take over from BSCP the governance and direction of billiard sports in our country, in order to implement their own agenda for the establishment of a pro team league. As they have failed and keep failing in their agenda, so have their actions become more desperate. The latest is their pathetic decision to mount an event simultaneously with the inaugural tournament of the Philippine Pool Tour.

It is fortunate that the Philippine Senate will be conducting its inquiry very soon because it will finally bring out the truth about the billiards situation here, and throw light on the shadowy practices and sinister forces that are tarnishing our sport and endanger its future.

Ferreting out the truth will serve as a cleansing process for Philippine pool. It will make our sport and our billiards community stronger. And we at the BSCP and Raya Sports welcome it.