Manalo-Gabica-Led Filipino Team Set For World Ten-Ball

Marlon Manalo

REIGNING national champion Marlon Manalo and Antonio Gabica will lead the Philippine contingent at the tough inauguration of World Ten-Ball Championship (WTBC) on September 29 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.

Fondly called "Marvelous" in the pool arena, the pride of Mandaluyong City, is aiming to continue his winning streak after winning the 2008 BSCP National Pool Championships at the Star Billiards Center.

"I hope to perform well in the inauguration of World Ten-Ball after winning the National Pool Championship at the Star Billiards Center recently," said Manalo. "But what ever happens, I wish a Filipino can win the championships in World Ten-Ball," he added.

The pride of Lapu-Lapu City, Gabica, beat former world champions Efren "Bata" Reyes and Ronato "Volcano" Alcano, in the semis and finals respectively to bag the 2007 Solar-RP 9-ball open crown. Gabica added, "It's a tough field, we will try our very best to win for flag and country".

Other notable Filipino bets competing in the World Ten-Ball are 2007 Manny Pacquiao international 9-ball open ruler Jeffrey "The Bull" De Luna, fast-rising Elvis Calasang, Elmer "Buddy" Kalaquian, Mario "Aklan" Tolentino and reigning RP junior champion Jericho Banares.

Expect more Filipinos to qualify for the tournament proper, which offers a total prize fund of $400,000 with the champion getting the lion's share of $100,000 in this prestigious event. The event is organized by Raya Sports in close cooperation with The Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines, Star Biliards Center and Philippines Billiards Foundation and backed up by The Department of Tourism, Alaxan FR, Sofitel Hotels and Resorts, Brunswick, Predator and Simonis cloth.

There will be 12 spots up for grabs in the WTBC qualifiers, scheduled on September 23 to 27 at the Star Billiards Center. The winner of each of the 10 qualifiers gets a spot. The two players with most points among the non-winners get the 11th to 12th spots.

Meanwhile, past and present world champions Daryl Peach of England, Chia-Ching Wu of Chinese-Taipei, Johnny "The Scorpion" Archer of the United States, Mika "The Iceman" Immonen of Finland, Ralf "Kaiser" Souquet, Thorsten "The Hitman" Hohmann and Oliver "The Machine" of Germany will lead the foreign bets.

Not to be outdone, are the US's brightest hope Shane "The South Dakota Kid" Van Boening, Niels "The Terminator" Feijen and Nick Van Den Berg of the Netherlands, Marcus "Napoleon" Chamat of Sweden, Vilmos Foldes of Hungrary, Konstantine Stepanov of Russia, Tony "Tornado" Drago of Malta, Radoslaw Babica of Poland, Sandor Tot of Serbia and Montenegro, Fabio Petroni of Italy, David Alcaide of Spain and world's female No.1 Jasmin Ouschan of Austria.

Other formidable cast of foreign participants who are competing that includes 2007 Guinness 9-ball tour grand champion Jung-Lin Chang, Pin-Yi Ko and Ching-Shun Yang of Chinese-Taipei, Raj Hundal and Dharminder Lilly of India and Satoshi Kawabata of Japan, and Fil-Canadian Edwin Montal, among others.