Players’ Boycott of Raya Events Their Loss

THE planned boycott by a handful of pool players under the Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines (BMPAP) of pool tournaments organized by Raya Sports will be their loss and not of the tournament organizer.

Raya Managing Director JP Fenix said in a statement that those who declared a boycott are only a fraction of the Filipino pool community and the great majority of Filipino players do not support the BMPAP's agenda of envy and negativism.

“They (rest of the players) have expressed their full support for Raya and the BSCP and will play in our events,” Fenix said. “Pool honors are not won by saying you will not play. They are won by competing in tournaments that are fair, well organized, and recognized by international sports bodies. “

Fenix pointed out that whenever Raya organizes a tournament, it announces who are the players eligible and can apply for entry.

“We do not issue invitations,” he said. “We do not force anyone to join. But our experience is that our tournaments -- the national championships and the world pool championship – have usually overflowed with participants. If there are some players who don't want to join these events, that will therefore be their loss, not ours.”

Fenix recalled that the tactic of boycotting events to enforce a demand is a familiar one of Aristeo Puyat, manager of Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamente, who employed it against the Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) in many campaigns at the Southeast Asian Games and the Asian Games over the last 20 years.

“(Puyat) is trying to use it now against Raya Sports, with the collusion of a couple of other managers,” Fenix said. “Obviously, he is envious of our success in staging major international events, whereas his tournaments, like the Negros Open immediately after the 2007 WPC, have been small, poorly organized and criticized by foreign players.”

Raya Sports is a member of the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA). It is internationally known as a sports promoter, having organized the World Pool Championships twice in Manila.

Raya President Yen Makabenta is a promoter licensed by the Games and Amusement Board of the Philippines, a respected member of the international pool fraternity and known to players and pool officials worldwide. He was named Man of the Year last year by Billiards Digest, the biggest pool magazine in the world. He is currently a regular columnist for AZBilliards, the top international website of pool. He was instrumental in bringing the prestigious World Pool Championship to Manila in 2006 and 2007 and he has secured for the Philippines the five-year franchise for the World Ten Ball Championship starting this year.

Fenix adds that Raya's events are staged in cooperation with other top organizations, notably Star Billiards for quality tables and ESPN-Star Sports, ABS-CBN, ABC and Solar Sports for TV coverage.

“We pay top prizes to the winners, and players get their money within a week of the event, not months as they do with rival promotions,” he said. “We stage our events in quality venues; we do not run from one billiard parlor to another like some promoters. We take no commissions from players' winnings. And we pay taxes.”

Fenix emphasized that the authority of sending Filipino players to international tournaments rests with the BSCP, being a part of the WPA system and being officially a member of the Asian Pocket Billiards Union. Tournaments like the world championships and the Guinness Pool Tour course their request for billiard players through the BSCP.

“We cannot comprehend these so-called players' grievances against Raya,” Fenix said. “We don't owe any players any money. We were scrupulously fair to players in our tournaments. And we always gave them excellent TV exposure.”