‘Biggies’ in Villar Cup

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Expect an even more exciting and more competitive pool action as the First Senate President Manny Villar Cup goes international for its fifth leg slated from November 13 to 16 at the Garden Royal Function Hall of Goldenfields Commercial Complex in Bacolod City.

After four highly successful stops, where the cream of the country’s billiards’ crop battled for supremacy, the island-hopping series, presented by Villards: Tulong sa Pagsulong ng Philippine Sports, has opened its door for some of the world’s top cue artists.

“We want to make this tournament even more competitive, more challenging to our top players, while giving our young players the experience of playing in the international level,” said Senate President Manny Villar during the press launch Wednesday at the Bacolod Goldenfields’ Garden Royal.

“This is part of my commitment of helping sports, especially those where we Filipinos can excel in and dominate, like billiards,” added Villar, now considered as the biggest benefactor of Philippine billiards.

Former World Cup of Pool titlist Fu Jianbo of China leads the visiting forces, who will mix it up with 24 local bets for the coveted title and the $15,000 top prize at stake in this four-day event, organized by the Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines in cooperation with the city government of Bacolod, led by Mayor Evelio Leonardia, and the Negros Billiards Stable of businessman Jonathan Sy and sponsored by Camella Communities.

Besides Fu, the other foreign entries in this tournament, also dubbed as “the Bacolod International VILLARDS Festival,” are former Asian Games gold medalist Satoshi Kawabata of Japan and Christian Johannessen of Norway, among others.

“Mas mabigat nga ang laban ngayon, pero tingin ko kami-kami pa rin ang magkikita sa finals,” said pool icon Efren “Bata” Reyes, reprising one of his famous lines.

Reyes will once again lead the local charge, along with fellow former world champions Alex Pagulayan and Ronnie Alcano, reigning world No. 1 Dennis Orcollo, Francisco “Django” Bustamante, Lee Van Corteza and previous Villar Cup leg winners Kiamco (Alabang), Gandy Valle (Cebu), Ramil Gallego (Bulacan) and Roberto Gomez (Davao).

Also in the 32-man field are Carlo Biado and Ricky Zerna. The rest of the slot will be filled through wild-card entries and a series of qualifying tournaments slated from November 8 to 11 at the Celebrity Billiards and Bar in Bacolod City.

Besides the international invitational division, there will also be the Executive Class and Amateur divisions for both men and women, where almost half-a-million pesos cash prize is at stake.