With four world champions and a bunch of crack pool players, the Philippine billiards team to the Southeast Asian Games are likely to reap medals in the competition.
Reigning world No. 1 player and current world 8-Ball titleholder Dennis Orcullo, Hall of Famer Efren “Bata” Reyes, former world 9-Ball champion Francisco “Django” Bustamante, and inaugural women’s world 10-Ball champion Rubilen Amilit will lead the Filipino charge in the biennial competition.
Orcullo, the leading candidate for the Male Player of the Year of the World Pool-Billiards Association, told InterAKTV in a telephone interview that the Philippines is capable of winning a plentiful bounty in the SEA Games.
“Lamang tayo kasi may mga world champions tayo,” he said. “May advantage tayo sa 8-Ball, pati na rin sa women’s 9-Ball and 8-Ball and men’s 9-Ball.”
Orcullo will play in his favorite discipline, the 8-Ball, where he is expected to romp with the crown.
Amit, who ruled both the 9-Ball and 8-Ball women’s events in Laos, is tipped to repeat as champion. The 30-year-old won the 2009 Women’s World 10-Ball championship in Manila where she defeated Liu Shin Mei of Chinese Taipei.
Bustamante became a world champion at the age of 47 when he captured his first major title in Doha, Qatar last year. He is favored to win in the men’s 9-Ball event. His bosom buddy, Reyes, will play in the carom event.
Other players seeing action for our national billiards squad are Warren Kiamco, Jeff de Luna, Jundel Mazon, Francisco dela Cruz, Rey Grandea, Felipe Tauro, Luis Saberdo and Iris Ranola.