De Luna, Zerna Headline Pool Showdown on Saturday

MANILA, PHILIPPINES---Two young guns from the country's top billiard stables headline tomorrow (Saturday, 29 September) the first Match of the Week of Pool Showdown, a twice-a-week reality TV program that will be broadcast by ABC-5. Jeffrey "the Bull" de Luna (2006 Asian Games 9-ball silver medalist) and Ricky "Bai" Zerna (2007 Winner-Take-All 9-ball champion) will clash at the Rizal Memorial Billiards Center in Manila, starting at 8 pm. They won their seats in the weekly challenge match after hurdling their respective group ring games last Monday.

De Luna is a member of Bugsy Promotions, the club managed by Perry Mariano. Zerna is a top bet of Negros Billiards, the club run by businessman Jonathan Sy. Pool Showdown will be aired live by ABC-5 from 8:00 to 10:30 tonight. The program is a joint production of Raya Sports and ABC-5. It is sanctioned by the Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP).

"Pool Showdown is a major step forward for our RP pool development program," Raya president Yen Makabenta said. "By putting pool regularly on prime time TV, we seek to expand player participation, fan interest, and sponsorship support for the sport." The program features every week a Ring Game of six players on Tuesday, and a Match of the Week on Saturday. The pool games featured are 8-ball, 9-ball and 10-ball.

Zerna, a 25 year-old from Dumaguete City, won the race-to-10 points Group A Ring Game, which featured 10-ball. He came out ahead of the group which included double world champion Ronato "Volcano" Alcano (5 pts.), Eduardo "Pikoy" Villanueva (2 pts.), Edgar "Malabon"Acaba (5 pts.), Roberto " Pinoy Superman" Gomez (1 pt.), and Carlo "Cool" Biado (4 pts.). "Puspusan ang ginagawa kong paghahanda sa One Side (the billiard hall in Malate, Manila) at sana pumasok ang game plan namin ni coach Toper (Christopher Palses, NBS coach) at pumanig ang bola sa akin," Zerna explained. (I prepare hard for this event at One Side and I hope my game plan with Coach Toper will work and the balls will favor me.)

The 23-year-old De Luna, for his part, topped the Group B ring game, which featured 8-ball. He won over a field composed of 2007 US Bar Table 9-Ball Champion and 8-Ball Champion Warren "Warrior" Kiamco (4 pts), 2006 Sydney World Junior quarter-finalist Renemar "Revo" David (4 pts), 2005 Taiwan World 9-Ball semi-finalist Marlon "Marvelous" Manalo, and 2006 Doha Asian Games 9-ball gold medalist and 8-ball silver medalist Antonio "Ga-Ga" Gabica (3 pts), and 2005 SMB Asian 9-ball tour Singapore leg winner Gandy "Sapsal" Valle (2 pts). "Bai (Ricky Zerna) is a fast-rising and strong player," said de Luna. "But I'm ready and will do my very best to win the first Match of the Week."

Zerna and De Luna will receive a cash prize of $800 each for winning in the ring games. The winner of their challenge match will get $1,000 as the "Hari ng Mesa" for the week.

Pool Showdown will run from September to December. The Grand Finals in December will feature the top four players. The champion, dubbed as the Last Man Standing, will take home $12,000, while the second, third and fourth placer will receive $5,000, $3,000 and $1,500 respectively.

In October, international players are slated to join the program. They include top British champions Darren Appleton and Karl Boyes, and US standout Max Eberle.