World Pool Championship For The Next 3 Years In Manila?

The Philippines could be the home of the World Pool Championship for the next three years.

The co-organizing groups of Raja Sports headed by Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) chairman Yen Makabenta and the Matchroom Sport have agreed to a two-year contract with an option to extend for another year.

“ (It already sure the hosting of WPC next year here) Sure na sa bansa natin gagawin ang WPC up to next year,” Makabenta said during the press conference of the event yesterday at the Philippine Plaza Hotel which will be be publicly known as Sofitel Philippine Plaza next month. “We also have the first option for 2008.”

According to Diana Chan, representative of the event's television partner ESPN, the other countries bidding to host the prestigious tournament after the Philippines are Malaysia, Indonesia and Chinese Taipei.

Matchroom Sport representative Ted Lerner added that South Korea and the Netherlands are also showing interest to host the world championship of 9-ball.

At present, 12 local players have already secured slots in the WPC led by Asian 9-Ball Tour Order of Merit topnothcer and 1999 champion Efren “Bata” Reyes, 2004 winner Alex “The Lion” Pagulayan, recent San Miguel Beer Philippine 9-Ball Open champion Francisco “Django” Bustamante and last year's semifinalist Marlon “Marvelous” Manalo.

At least six Filipinos are also expected to grab a seat in the 128-man group elimination when the series of qualifying tournaments unfolds on Oct. 28 to Nov. 1.

Among the favorite to advance into the main draw are young stars Mike “Tsoke” Takayama, Roberto “Pinoy Superman” Gomez and Renemar “Revo” David and veterans Lee Vann Corteza and Antonio “Nickoy” Lining, Antonio “Ga-Ga” Gabica, Leonardo “Dodong Dadiangas” Andam and Warren “Warrior” Kiamco.

The alternate break will be implemented throughout the tournament for the first time. The players will also be divided into 32 groups of four players each this year instead of 16 groups of eight players each. The top two finishers from each group will advance into the 64-man knockout phase.

Meanwhile, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William “Butch” Ramirez, Jr. believes the Filipinos will have a grand time in the WPC this year.

“ (We had a big chance to win this event) Napakalaki ng chance natin dahil iba kapag sa sariling banig ka natutulog,” said Ramirez, himself a billiards enthusiast.

“(I love the billiard game) Mahal na mahal natin itong bilyar. In fact during my time as football coach in Ateneo De Davao ( we build a billiards club) ay nagtayo ako ng billiards club doon.”

Among his fellow Davaoeños who are making waves in pool are Valle, Corteza, Leonardo Didal and top female player Mary Ann Basas.

Also present in the gathering were BSCP president Ernesto Fajardo, PSC Commissioner Ritchie Garcia, former PSC Commissioner and Department of Tourism (DOT) assistant secretary Cynthia Carreon and Philippine Airlines assistant vice-president Jess Guidote Garcia.

Fajardo is expecting a tough challenge from the Taiwanese and German players.

“(The game of the Taiwanese and Germans doing good and I expect tough opposition than the United States) Papaangat ang laro ng mga Taiwanese and Germans. Kaysa sa mga American players, sa tingin ko mas mahihirapan tayo sa kanila,” he said.