The Old Guard Versus The Young Turks

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - This is how the BSCP National Pool Championship is bound to shape up when the veterans slug it out with the new generation of billiards hopefuls from August 15 to 20 at the Ninoy Aquino stadium.

"The National Pool Championship is an opportunity to have most if not all of our best and promising cue artists compete for the prestige and honor of being declared as the official national champion," Yen Makabenta, Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines chairman, yesterday at the PSA forum at the Pantalan Restaurant.

Joining Makabenta in the session sponsored by PAGCOR and the Manila city government were BSCP president Ernesto Fajardo and the powerhouse cast of entries in the tournament led by Rodolfo "Boy Samson" Luat, who won the Kaohshiung leg of the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball tour on Sunday.

Also present were Pinoy cue aces Dennis Orcollo, who placed third in the International Pool Tour (IPT) North American Open, Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Warren Kiamco and Ronnie Alcano.

"It's about time that a new generation of players emerge. We're not getting any younger. The National Pool Championship is an ideal venue to discover more fresh billiards talent," said the 48-year-old Luat, who also competed in the grueling IPT tourney.

On the other hand, Orcollo, a member of the growing stable of billiards patron Perry Mariano, said he was excited to compete against a distinguished cast of entries.

"That is why I have been training hard for this event. I can only promise to do my best," the 27-year-old Surigao del Sur pride, who also won the Hard Times and Reno Open 9-Ball titles in the US, said.

California-based Jose "Amang" Parica, who, at 54, is considered the doyen of Filipino billiards players, will make a rare local appearance by vying in the competition to test his seasoned skills against the present crop of standouts, Fajardo said.

Fajardo added that 2004 World Pool champion Alex Pagulayan, a triple gold medalist in the 2005 Philippine Southeast Asian Games, has also committed to compete in the tournament offering a top prize of P1 million to the champion plus four slots to the World Pool Championship in Manila in November.

"If among the top four finishers in the tournament have already qualified for the World Pool Championship, then those next in line will get the berths," Makabenta said.

Fifteen-year-old John Carlos Sena, who was one of the pocket billiards winners in the POC Olympic Festival, said it was a great honor to compete with the greats of local billiards. "All I can do is play my best," he said.

Parica, Pagulayan, Orcollo and Luat are among those seeded to the 64-man main tournament opening on August 15.

Twelve more berths will be contested in qualifying events on Saturday and Sunday at the Star Paper Corp. billiards hall owned by Sebastian Chua, BSCP treasurer.

The tournament will have a double-elimination tournament, meaning a player will have to lose twice before bowing out of contention.

"This format assures Filipino billiards fans that only the best from the National Pool Championship will emerge the winner," Makabenta said.