Is Pool losing its touch?


Is pool not getting the right break?

I remember like it was yesterday when people are glued to ESPN Asia even in the wee hours to catch a glimpse of the best pool players in the world.

Did anyone notice that Django Bustamante won the event?

Did anyone notice that the games weren’t held for two years before this event took place?


I remember when ESPN first featured the World 9-Ball Championship as if it was a very, very major event. It was held in Cardiff in 1999… with the best of billiards and snooker battling it out for supremacy. That year Efren “The Magician” Reyes, called “Bata” by Pinoys of all walks, won against Taiwanese Hao Ping Chang. This further cemented Bata stature as the “Michael Jordan of pool” and this briefly made Hao’s name a household name... in the Philippines!

And how can we forget the 2002 final that pitted the “villainous” Earl Strickland against the crowd favorite Bustamante? Bustamante was in a wretched state after hearing the news that his two-year daughter passed on. After his wife persuaded him to play on, he made sure he played his best to dedicate to his daughter despite losing to The Pearl.

Alex "The Lion" Pagulayan, after a runner-up finish in 2003 against Thorsten Hohmann, sealed a win against Chang Pei Wei a year later. This opened acting opportunities for Alex as the Pinoy from Canada appeared on a lot of shows, particularly ten-popular sitcom OK Fine, Whatever!

Ronnie Alcano, an underrated pool player who just like his idol Efren Reyes, dons no teeth when playing pool, fought against a top-rated pool demigod in Ralf Souquet and win the 2006 World 9-Ball Championship! This was a great treat because this was the first time the Philippines hosted the event. Roberto "Superman" Gomez tried to duplicate the feat for the Filipinos in 2007 but all hopes were dashed when he was defeated by Daryl Peach of England.

The 2008 and 2009 versions of the event were not held.

The 2010 version was quietly hosted by the Qatari contingent where Bustamante finally clinched the crown defeating 2-time runner-up Kuo Po-cheng.

How was this possible? Isn’t billiard a sport on the brink of Olympic citation? Filipinos, and I don’t mean this pornographically, have for a thing poking balls and scoring on holes. Rubilen Amit, created a mild roar from the global stage after clinching the 2009 World 10-ball Championship.

But afterwards… what? What’s the biggest sensation we have as of this moment? Certainly it’s not the World Cup because it’s not as if people of all walks are playing soccer instead of basketball. Speaking of basketball, Team Pilipinas and the PBA are fostering awesome stumps in the global stage but it’s not like half the country is playing basketball. For every person withholding a trip to their house, cutting class, and trying to score a free meal via a friendly wager, pool is something that we have ever since Amang Parica and Bata made the game famous.

Remember the popularity 9-Ball action a couple of years back? Up to this day, billiard halls have been a place where friends go head-to-head regardless of what soft drink or beer they nuzzle in their mouths. Politics has been cited as one of its biggest thorns. Emigration is another quandary as some of our finest are moving away to get rich by teaching other countries the "Pinoy style". Antonio "Gaga" Gabica is amongst the notables.

I hope it regains the frenzied popularity it once had.

I hope the country score more victories broadsheets and TV networks can cover.

That would be awesome.

Game over.

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