Bigger and Better World Pool Championship in Manila

The three main partners in the staging of the 2007 World Pool Championship in Manila, Matchroom Sport chairman Barry Hearn, Kerry Davis of ESPN Star Sports and Raya Sports president Yen Makabenta yesterday promised that this years event would be even "bigger and better" than the highly successful tournament held in Manila last year which was won by Filipino Ronnie Alcano.

Hearn and Makabenta, chosen as "Man of the Year" for 2006 by the prestigious Billiards Digest Magazine in their Annual Awards praised President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who honored them with her presence at the signing of an agreement in Malacanang to stage the WPC in Manila .

Hearn said the President's presence was "an amazing recognition of where pool sits in the cultural status of the Philippines. The fact that the President can spend her time to witness the signing which shows that the Philippines will host the biggest championship, says it all. I was so impressed with what I saw today because I've been around the world, I've been to governments, I've seen people just accept the winners of sport. They don't realize that these people are leaders of your country. These are people that youngsters will look up to which can set a trend. Its fantastic that the President can set this example that these people are worthy of her support."

Makabenta said he could not thank President Arroyo enough for witnessing the signing of the agreement. Makabenta said he wanted to point out that a review of the last five years of the presidency of Ms. Arroyo would show that the Philippines has "never won more distinction in sports." He cited the overall title at the last Southeast Asian Games, the good performance at the last Asian Games and the triumphs in pool and boxing."

The 2007 WPC will be held from November 3-11 and the choice of the venue has been narrowed down to the Philippine International Convention Center and the SM X Convention Center along Roxas Boulevard where construction will be finished in June.

Makabenta also commended San Miguel Corporation for coming forward early to support the World Pool Championship and for its involvement in the first National Pool Championship for women and the Second National Pool Championship for men to be held at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium from March 26-31.

Makabenta who is also chairman of the Billiards & Snooker Congress of the Philippines said he didn't want to dampen Filipino hopes of back-to-back victories following Alcano's superb victory over European ace Ralf Souquet last year but indicated it was "always hard for a country to repeat which has been the history of the tournament."

Makabenta said that while Davis predicted a Filipino would win he didn't want to be caught "building up public expectations too much because its possible to appreciate the tournament just for the excellence. While national pride plays a part, the excellence of the competition and being good hosts is a good opportunity for us once again to showcase the Philippines."