Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hurting the Sport of Billiards by Ronnie Nathanielsz

Billiards GraphicBilliards buddies and pool players, here is another interesting read from one of my favorite sports journalists, Ronnie Nathanielsz. The article, which was published in the October 7, 2008 issue of the Manila Standard Today, focuses the statement made by World Pool Association President Ian Anderson about the absence of the country’s top pool superstars at the recently concluded World Ten Ball Championship.

The post does not just dwell on that – but more! Read on, friends. It is one interesting read! And I kid you not!

*All credits for the article go to Ronnie Nathanielsz and the Manila Standard Today.

Hurting the Sport of Billiards
Ronnie Nathanielsz

We have consciously sought to stay away from the debilitating quarrel between two factors in Philippine pool, that at times has degenerated into a level of arrogance and meanness that cannot but hurt the sport and distress the millions of Filipinos, who support the sport in its various formats.

That’s because close friends of many summers are positioned on either side and if we have any interest at all, it’s in trying to bring the two factions together in the interest of the sport, the many fine players that the country has bred and a public that should never be deprived of seeing the very best represent the Philippines.

This should be the underlying principle, whether it be in regional competitions such as the Southeast Asian Games and Asian Games or pro tournaments like the Guinness 9-Ball Tour, the World Pool Championships and the recent World 10-Ball Championships.

However, while in Cebu to cover two excellent boxing promotions back-to-back in Talisay and Naga City, we read a Standard Today story quoting World Pool Association president Ian Anderson who, when asked about the absence of pool legends Efren “Bata” Reyes, Django Bustamante, former World Pool Champions Ronnie Alcano and Alex Pagulayan and reigning world no. 1 Dennis Orcollo, replied that the quality of play will not diminish and that they are not the only top world players. He went on to state that the absence of Reyes, Bustamante and Pagulayan “won’t matter in the event.”

If Anderson dared watch television, he would have realized that their absence did matter because the crowds were sparse to say that least, so much so that at one point, Ted Lerner had to seat the few fans behind him and ask them to make a much noise as possible.

Besides, for Anderson to downgrade the likes of Reyes, who is acknowledged as the greatest pool player of all time and a Time magazine awardee is an affront to all of us, who have thrilled at the exploits of The Magician and others and enjoyed their demeanor both at the table and away from it. The flag-waving overseas workers, who crowned venues in the Middle East and Europe, whenever Reyes and his buddies play is a testament to their admiration for the quality of their game and affection for such simple, down-to-earth individuals, who are a tribute to our country.

Of course, Anderson had to probably say that he said because the WPA earns a percentage of the prize money as sanction fees and he knows, at least for the present, where his bread is buttered.

To stage a $400,000 tournament in Manila amid the absence of the superstars of Philippine pool was like giving good money away to the foreign players without a decent fight with the notable exception of Demosthenes Pulpul.

It becomes even more questionable when the major sponsors were government owned or controlled entities such as Pagcor and the Department of Tourism, who skimp in support of our national sports programs, but somehow found the funds to support this tournament, which did nothing to enhance the reputation of the Philippines being the epicenter of pool. That honor was deservedly earned as a result of the tremendously successful World Pool Championships, staged by Raya Sports, headed by Yen Makabenta in 2006 and 2007 when our best players completed, with Ronnie Alcano being crowned champion in 2006 and Roberto Gomez finishing runner-up in 2007.

The crowds were there in full force, particularly at the PICC in 2006, while nowhere near those numbers showed up at the 10-Ball Event.

If government supports such events with substantial funding, it is incumbent on those responsible to find out, who is playing and whether we can get the kind of exposure that justifies the investment. Beyond that, if government considered it an investment, then rather than follow the example of GSIS president Winston Garcia, who refuses to provide details of foreign investments with the money of its members claiming confidentiality, they need to release information because the public has a right to know.

"The AnitoKid supports Philippine billiards!"

*Did you enjoy the post? Did you find it interesting?
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