PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE Philippines gets a huge crack at reclaiming the World Cup of Pool title when it hosts the young but prestigious annual tournament from Sept. 1-6 at The Annex of the SM North Edsa.
Two tandems composed of Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes and Francisco ‘Django’ Bustamante and Ronnie Alcano and Dennis Orcollo will banner the host nation as it attempts to nail down a second World Cup crown after winning the inaugural event in 2006 in Newport, U.K.
Thirty-one countries are expected to participate in the week-long championships wherein each nation is allowed to field one team composed of two players. The Philippines, as host, has the luxury of fielding two.
“Lahat ng players dito magagaling,” said Bustamante. “Pero malaki ang pag-asa nating manalo. Maski isa lang sa team natin ang dumating sa Finals okay na okay na.”
Reyes and Bustamante were the first pair to rule this event, beating the United States 13-5 in the Finals. China won the event the following year in a classic 11-10 win over Finland before the U.S. triumphed last year.
The last two stagings of the tournament were held in Holland.
This is the first time that the tournament will be held outside of Europe. And the Filipinos are expected to capitalize on their home-court advantage as they seek to pocket the $60,000 (P2.88 million) purse out of the total $250,000 prize at stake.
Tournament rules call for a 9-ball scotch doubles format, where players from each team take turns to shoot in the same inning. Team play is also vital since strategy plays an important role in the game.
“Walang hero-hero dito sa laro na ito,” said Bustamante, who broke into world fame after winning 11 international tournaments in 1998. “Dapat dito bigayan at diskarte.”
Of the countries competing, there is a consensus among the four Filipinos that the U.S., Chinese-Taipei, and Germany are the toughest to beat. They, however, do not discount the possibility of an unheralded national winning the tournament.
“Yung mahina pwedeng manalo,” said Reyes, who in the tournament’s media conference yesterday clarified that he had never had a problem with his sight.
“Hindi naman talaga malabo ang mata ko,” he said, smiling. “Sumasakit, oo, dahil sa mga flash ng mga camera.”