Filipino Pool players and Managers Band Together

The country's top players and their managers have joined hands to form the Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines (BMPAP), an organization that primarily aims to protect not only their interest but more especially that of the popular sport.

“This organization will help keep the Philippine tag as the world epicenter of billiards, the home of the world's best cue artists,” said businessman Perry Mariano, one of the BMPAP's prime movers.

Managers Aristeo “Putch” Puyat, Jonathan Sy and Edwin Reyes are the other brainchild of the group.

Mariano heads Bugsy Promotions, a stable of superstar players that include former double world champion Ronnie Alcano, 2007 World Pool Championship (WPC) runner-up Roberto Gomez, Doha Asian Games gold medalist Antonio “Gaga” Gabica and silver medal winner Jeff De Luna and former World Pool League titlist Dennis Orcollo.

Puyat manages former world champions Efren “Bata” Reyes and Alex Pagulayan and former world No.1 Francisco “Django” Bustamante, while Sy heads the rising Negros Billiards Stable which has reigning national champion Lee Van Corteza and veteran internationalist Rodolfo Luat as its top players. Edwin Reyes, on the other hand, handles former World Juniors campaigner Renemar David among others.

Puyat said the BPMAP will complement the programs of the Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP), the sport's national sports association.

“Just like in basketball where the SBP taps the service of the PBA whenever it wants to send the best team to international competitions,” explained Puyat. “Here, the BPMAP is more than willing to lend its top players to the national team, particularly for the SEA [Southeast Asian] Games and Asian Games, if we're asked to.”

“We can have a qualifying tournament to determine who we are going to send to those competitions,” he added.

The association, Mariano said, will be coordinating with the Games and Amusements Board because of the players' status as athletes in a professional sport.

The BMPAP will also create alternative livelihood programs for its members, particularly those who are approaching retirement, as well as hold year-round tournaments to be played all over the country.

Another primary concern is the securing of visas for most of the local professional pool players. Mariano said Gabica and De Luna, despite their stature, missed important tournaments abroad because of visa problems.

“The BPMAP in a way will help facilitate the visas of the players. This has been a problem by most of the players, even those who are already well-known in the national scene,” said Mariano.

“How can our players achieve world-class status if they cannot compete internationally?” Mariano asked. “Kailangan muna ba nilang manalo sa World Pool?”