Three Pinoy World Champs Banner National Open

With the country's three world champions participating, the 2nd Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) National Pool Championships is expected to be a sure-fire hit.

Slated on March 26-31 at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Rizal Memorial Complex, Manila, the weeklong 2-million pesos event is also expected to draw the top pool masters in the land.

Already, BSCP chairman president Yen Makabenta confirmed the participation of Efren “Bata” Reyes, defending national open champion Alex “The Lion” Pagulayan and Ronato “Volcano” Alcano. Makabenta, acknowledged by the US pool magazine Billiards Digest as “Man of the Year”, said that the National Pool Championships will “really be a clash of our champions”. He added that the acknowledged godfather of Philippine pool Aristeo “Putch” Puyat had assured BSCP president Ernesto Fajardo that Reyes and bosom buddy former world No.1 Francisco “Django” Bustamante, who skipped last year's tournament will definitely play.

Makabenta added that Bugsy promotion boss Ceferino “Perry” Mariano also assured BSCP president Fajardo that Alcano will also participate in one of the big sports event in Manila..

Also joining the tournament will be 2006 BSCP runner-up Gandy “Sapsal” Valle, 2006 World Pool Leaque ruler Dennis “Robocop” Orcollo as well 15th Doha Asian games medallist Antonio “Ga-Ga” Gabica and Jeffrey “The Bull” De Luna and 2007 Battle of Scandinavia 9-ball winner Roberto “Pinoy Superman” Gomez and runner-up Jharome “Pendong” Peña and three-time Southeast Asian games gold medallist Warren “Warrior” Kiamco, also playing from Bugsy promotion.

Negros Billiard stable headed by manager/ coach Christopher Palses will pit 2006 All Japan Champion Lee Van Corteza and 2006 Asian 9-ball tour Taiwan leg kingpin and 2006 US Open runner-up Rodolfo “Boy Samson” Luat.

Marlon “Marvelous” Manalo, 2005 WPC third placer, Ramil “Bebeng” Gallego, 2006 Asian 9-ball Thailand tour leg winner and veteran campaigner Antonio “Nickoy” Lining also signified their intention to play.

Makabenta and Fajardo said Filipino pool fans can expect a full calendar of events this year highlighted by the return of the World Pool Championships from November 3-11. He added that with the “tremendous national and international response” to the staging of the WPC last year, he expect more tourists to visit Manila for the event.

"The 2007 WPC will be even bigger and better," Makabenta added "it will justify Billiards Digest's claim that the Philippines is now the epicenter of international pool."

Makabenta, who is president of Raya Sports which won commendation for its hosting of the 2006 World Pool Championships said the National Pool Championships will feature a top prize of P500,000 with the added incentive of four outright slots in the WPC. The event will also be used as part of the criteria in the selection of the Philippines' representatives to the Southeast Asian Games in Bangkok in December. The women's division will offer a top prize of P200,000 and two slots in the SEA Games squad.

Fajardo disclosed plans to stage an 8-ball National Championship in mid-year where Reyes who won the IPT World Open 8-Ball Championships last year September in Reno, Nevada is regarded as almost unbeatable. He said the 8-ball event will help determine the country's representatives to the SEA Games.

"We're staging national championship tournaments for men and women for the first time," Fajardo explained. "The ranks of women players are increasing, and it's time we give them full recognition and encouragement."

The national men's pool championship will feature 64 players in the main draw. The women's championship will feature 32 players. Both tournaments will be double elimination, with final four for semis and finals. Qualifying tournaments will be staged a week before the main tournaments.

Registration in the national pool championship starts last February 1. Entry fee in the men's division is P3,000; in the women's division P2,000. All Filipino players, regardless of residence or citizenship, are eligible to join.

There will be a qualification tournament for the 2nd BSCP National Pool Open on March 21-23 at the Star Paper Billiards Complex in Quezon City owned by BSCP director Sebastian Chua, distributor of Brunswick table here in the Philippines.