Reyes says All-Filipino Final Possible in World Pool Championship

Efren "Bata" Reyes said yesterday an all-Filipino final is possible when Manila hosts the 2006 World Pool Championships from November 4-12 at the Philippine International Convention Center.

In a well-attended news conference to officially launch the world?s most prestigious pool event, Reyes said "we can repeat what happened in Kaohsiung last year" when teenage sensation Wu Chia Ching defeated Po Kuo Cheng in the finals. Reyes, acknowledged around the world as "The Magician" because of his incredible shot-making ability noted that the Philippines has "several excellent players and playing in our hometown is an advantage. An all-Filipino final is possible."

The president of the Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines Ernesto Fajardo supported Reyes. Fajardo said "its fitting to hold the World Pool Championships here where we have the best players in the world" adding " BSCP is committed to help make it the best ever."

Yen Maklabenta, BSCP chairman and chairman and president of the RAYA Sports & Events organization which is hosting the World Pool Championships said it will be "a new chapter we should write in the history of Philippine billiards and how we could contribute to the resurgence of Philippine sports and throw back at former Thai prime minister Thaksin his ridiculous claim that we Filipinos cheated to gain top honors in the last Southeast Asian Games" in Manila.

Makabenta said the total cost would be around P75 million but expressed confidence that with the support of government as indicated by no less that President Arroyo who is aware of the developments and the strong interest shown by major local companies and regional advertisers, the event is bound to be a resounding success.

Makabenta was optimistic stating that "the reason we got into this is because there is an option for a second staging" in 2007. He said "maybe the first time it will be a hard sell and we will be lucky if we make any money but the second time we will. Frankly, I want to keep it (The World Pool Championships) here for a while before we let go."

Matchroom Sport Media Director Luke Riches said "over the years we have had the great pleasure of witnessing the fabulous skills of many Filipino pool stars," including Reyes who won the championship when it was staged in 1999 for the first time in Cardiff. Riches said Matchroom Sport was "proud to have developed it into the biggest, most widely viewed spectacle in the billiards world." He noted that "when we first produced the World Championships in 1999 it was always one of our major ambitions to one day stage the event in a pace we consider to be the Mecca of the modern game ? the Philippines. "

Riches said ESPN Star Sports will carry live coverage of nine pulsating days of action and we could be witnessing the greatest party the Philippines has ever seen."

Harvey Davis, director of ESPN Star Sports said the coverage will reach 130 million households around Asia and will also provide live feeds to leading channels in Britain, the US and Australia among others and packaged programming for channels including Canada, Hungary, Holland, Russia and Scandinavia.

Among the players present at the Champagne Room of the historic Manila Hotel aside from Reyes, were Francisco "Django" Bustamante who was runner-up to Earl Strickland in 2002, big money-game player Dennis Orcollo, Antonio "Ga-Ga" Gabica and Gandy Valle. They will form part of the large Philippine contingent chasing the top prize of $100,000 in a $400,000 pot, the biggest in the history of the championships.