Pool Players Welcome NBL

Alex Pagulayan (File photo courtesy of Diana Hoppe - Pool Pics by Hoppe)

The soon-to-be-launched National Billiards League (NBL) has received an overwhelming support from the local pool community, particularly the players who are all excited to begin what they call “the new era of Philippine billiards.”

“We're all very happy with this development as we know that having this professional league will really lift (Philippine) billiards to new heights, and this will be the start of a new era of Philippine billiards,” said former world champion Alex Pagulayan.

After finding a television partner – Solar Sports – that would broadcast the games for the league's inaugural season, NBL's main proponents Philippine billiards godfather Aristeo “Putch” Puyat and fellow managers Perry Mariano and Jonathan Sy are now negotiating with several companies for sponsorship to the teams to be formed.

Last Saturday, they met with the players from the Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines (BMPAP) to formally inform them of the development and invite them to join the league. They also introduced the newly-appointed NBL commissioner in businessman Martin Misa.

“We're formally inviting you to join the NBL, a dream that we all share for a long time, which is now coming into reality,” said Puyat during the gathering attended by the country top cue artists, led by Efren “Bata” Reyes, as well as the sport's up-and-coming stars.

“NBL will be exclusive for you BMPAP members, who have been with us in our crusade to put out sport in the right direction,” added Puyat.

The NBL is slated to start late this year with eight teams of six players each in the fold.

Meanwhile, the players present in the meeting reiterated their stand of not joining any event “that has anything to do with Mr. Yen Makabenta” and his Raya Sports, including the planned World 10-Ball Championship, until all the issues that caused them to break away from the groups affiliated with him are resolved.

“The main reason why BMPAP bolted away from the groups affiliated with Mr. Makabenta is because of his dual role as chairman of the Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) and President of Raya Sports, which clearly constitutes conflict of interest,” the players said in a statement.

Besides Reyes and Pagulayan, also in the meeting were former double world champion Ronnie Alcano, 2007 World Pool runner-up Roberto Gomez, Warren Kiamco, Rodolfo Luat and Joven Bustamante, among others. Reigning world no.1 Dennis Orcollo and Francisco “Django” Bustamante, who are campaigning in the United States, sent their representatives.

They said that having nothing against BSCP and they are willing to reestablish their ties with the association “if all the issues are resolved.