SEAG Gold Medallist Dennis Orcollo Hopes To Get US Visa

MANILA, PHILIPPINES---MANILA SEA Games gold medallist Dennis "Surigao" Orcollo of the Philippines hopes lightning wouldn't strike thrice on him as far as his application for a US visa is concerned.

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.

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.

The pride of Bislig, Surigao Del Sur is keeping his fingers crossed.

"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.

Before taking the hot seat for the third time, Orcollo will go to Japan to compete in the 2006 All Kansai 9-Ball Open. The other Filipinos in the field are defending champion Warren "Warrior" Kiamco, Bustamante, Ramil "Bebeng" Gallego and Antonio "Nickoy" Lining. The winner in the race-to-nine finals will get a whopping top purse of P 1.000,000 yen (P1 Million Japanese Dollar).

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.

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.

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.