Pool’s new generation in national tourney

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - A NEW generation of pool players will test their skills in the 2006 BSCP National Pool Championship which opens on Tuesday, August 15 at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

Most are only in their teens but they won berths in the tournament by virtue of their being champions in their own right.

John "Potong" Cerna (15 yrs. Old), Johann "Bubwit" Chua (14 yrs.), and Ken Bryan Escano (16) won entry in the NPC outright after they finished first, second and third in the Philippine Olympic Festival Youth 9-Ball Tournament held last June.

The other teeners are Raymond Faraon, Bicol champion (18 yrs.), and Renemar David (16 yrs.), Ilocos Sur champion. They qualified for the main draw by virtue of being provincial champions.

Everyone in the group started early in the game and are now showing exceptional talent on the pool table. "The NPC will serve as a baptism of fire for them," says Julius Nidea, secretary-general of the Billiard & Snooker Congress of the Philippines.

Cerna, who hails from Paniqui, Tarlac, started playing pool at the age of ten. Now, he's considered a strong third tier (panercera) player, capable of jousting with the best in the group. He regularly plays money matches in Manila.

Chua was born in Bacolod City, but he and his bartender father and two siblings have moved to Binondo. He first showed his prodigious pool ability some four years ago in metro billiard parlors. Now, he's a house pro at the Rock & Roll Billaird Hall in Ermita, where he already excels in money games against top pros.

Escano has not stopped schooling like the other two, despite his passion for billiards. He is studying diligently for an Information Technology degree at the AMA University campus in Makati (I can do both)," he says). He started playing in 1999 after watching Efren Reyes win the world championship in Cardiff, Wales.

National pool coach Ramon Ancaja says all the new teenage players are capable of holding their own against their seniors in the game. "Their progress over the past two years has been rapid," he revealed. "Now they can play with the second rank of rated players. In a few more years, who knows?"