RP Pool Master Vying All Kansai 9-Ball Open

MANILA,PHILIPPINES---Former world no.1 Francisco 'Django' Bustamante and Dennis 'Surigao' Orcollo will spearheaded the country in the upcoming 2006 All-Kansai 9-Ball Open in Japan, alongside fellow Filipino and defending champion Warren 'Warrior' Kiamco, Ramil 'Bebeng' Gallego and Antonio 'Nickoy' Lining.

However, the Filipinos except for Kiamco will go through the elimination on Jan 21. The main draw to be composed of 32 players will begin on the following day. The winner in the race-to-nine finals will get a whopping top purse of 1.000,000 yen (1 Million Japanese Dollar/ roughly Php 500,000 ).

It shall be recalled that the 2005 All Kansai Open is Filipino 9-ball dominated tournament where the top four finishers are Kiamco, Orcollo, Gallego and Lining.

"I will do my best for the country," Orcollo told INQUIRER Sports before taking his flight yesterday via Japan Air Lines (JAL).

Expect the tough opposition for the Filipino cue artist from among Japanese pretenders led by former world champion Kunihiko Takahashi, Satoshi Kawabata and Takeshi Okumura.

The Bislig, Surigao del Sur native also invited to compete in the 2006 California 9-Ball Open on February 17 to 19, 2006 at the Hard Times Billiards in Bellflower, California.

Orcollo, also the RP's "Money Game King", looms as the country's next world champion hopes to secure a US visa in his third time application.

He was denied twice before despite getting an endorsement from the Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) and an invitation from a prestigious tournament.

"I wish my US visa application will be approved, if approved, it will be my best and memorable gift on my birthday." said Orcollo, who will turn 27 on Jan. 29, three days after his date with the US consul at the US embassy in Manila.

Orcollo was invited to play in the US Open last year along with compatriot Antonio "Ga-Ga" Gabica but visa woes prevented them from heading west.

Incidentally, Filipino cue artists dominated the money-rich tournament with Alex "The Lion" Pagulayan - Orcollo's favorite whipping boy in money games - claiming the title at the expense of Jose 'Amang' Parica. Francisco 'Django' Bustamante completed a 1-2-3 finish for the Philippines.

Solar Sports and businessman Perry Mariano will bankroll Orcollo's campaign overseas.

Mariano, also the manager of Asian 9-Ball Tour Manila leg winner Ronnie 'Calamba' Alcano, Gabica and upcoming Jeffrey 'Jeff Bata' de Luna, believes Orcollo has what it takes to become a world champion.

"Dennis is very confident and highly motivated. He just needs more exposure in international competitions," he said.

"I am optimistic that Dennis can perform well in the US billiard circuit and hopefully will climb in the world ranking."

Orcollo, ranked 59th in the world last season, is actually no stranger in international arena.

He's a veteran of the World Pool Championship and a multiple winner in Japanese billiards circuit. He teamed up with Pagulayan to bag the gold in the 9-ball pool doubles competition in the 23rd Manila Southeast Asian Games last year.