New College League Seeks To Clean RP Billiards’ Image

"It's about time to change the image of billiards in the Philippines."

This was the battlecry of the National Collegiate Billiards League (NCBL) founders who vowed to take away the "gambling" image of the sport, whose international Pinoy champions have put the country on the world map of billiards.

The NCBL B-League will have its first break on November 20 and will run up to March next year, having attracted at least 19 learning institutions and the support of various firms and individuals. Each schools will field both college and high school teams in 8-Ball doubles, 9-Ball, and 10-Ball.

The format will take a few months to complete the round robin elimination before it moves on to the finals.

Ceferino "Perry" Mariano, founder of Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines (BMPAP) admitted he is saddened that the pool of talent now in local billiards is limited to out-of-school youths, who spend most of their time hustling billiard halls for survival.

But, he said, with the forthcoming NCBL, schools can now be proud of their talented billiards players. They can offer athletic scholarships to promising players.

"The rising stars of other countries are in their teens. In two or three years, new generation of stars will eventually take over from the veterans. We need to develop a new breed of stars to keep our dominance in the sport. If not, well lose our competitive edge," said Mariano, owner of Bugsy Promotions that manages former double world champion Ronato Alcano, Dennis Orcullo, Roberto Gomez and Carlo Biado.

They also appealed to non-traditional sponsors to help the NCBL since the league plans to stay away from the usual billiards tournament sponsors such as beer and other alcohol products.

"We've invited schools to participate. We want to bring kids who are good in billiards but are out of school back to the classroom as athletic scholars. We want to keep the sport alive beyond the stars of today and we want to develop new billiards heroes," said NCBL president Aurelio "Reli" De Leon, whose expertise includes landing contracts for world boxing champions Manny Pacquiao and Erik Morales.

The NCBL is seen as an answer to the comprehensive youth program of Taiwan, wherein billiards was made part of the physical education inter-school system to discover young talents.