Billiard is one game where several Filipinos have excelled. It is a sport where strength and height don’t matter much but a game where skill and abilities are of great importance. Team Philippines is one of the most dreaded and most powerful team in this sport. Let’s meet the six Filipino billiard greats.
Efren “Bata” Reyes
In the Philippines and in the billiard world the name Efren “Bata” Reyes is synonymous to the word “billiard”. Ask even a small kid and he knows the man. Efren Reyes which is popularly known as “The Magician” was born in1954 and hailed from Angeles City. He is a 2-time world champion. Reyes is considered to be one of the all-time greats in the games of 9 ball one-pocket. As a player in professional pool, Reyes has been known to have won a number of money-rich tournaments worldwide. This makes him one of the most profitable players around. To prove it, he topped AZ Billiards Money List 5 times; 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006. In 2006, he set a record by earning $646,000 in a single year. He is well-like and a crowd favorite because of his unbelievable shots, hence the nickname “The Magician”.
Dennis “Surigao” Orcollo
One of the hottest names in billiards nowadays is Dennis Orcollo. Dennis was born in 1979 is a professional pool player and fondly called by the nicknamed “Surigao” (name from a province in the Philippines) and “Robocop”. He has been tagged “the Philippines’ Money-game King”. He’s the world no. 1 ranked by the World Pool Association right now because of his series of wins in the US.
Ronato “The Volcano” Alcano
Ronato (Ronnie) Alcano was born in 1972 in Calamba City (the birthplace of Jose Rizal-Philippine National Hero) Laguna, Philippines. Ronnie is a professional pool player, nicknamed “Ronnie Calamba” and “the Volcano”. He is the 2006 World Pool champion.
Rodolfo “Boy Samson” Luat
Another Filipino billiard greats is Rodolfo Luat. He was born in 1957 in Angeles City, the hometown of Efren Reyes. He is one of the higher-ranking players of Team Philippines and he holds many Asian individual and team titles. Luat turned professional at age 16. Rodolfo is the winner of the 1996 World Open Nine-ball Championship. Luat has been regarded as a dark horse in many tournaments. “Boy Samson” (from a Biblical character with enormous strength emanating from his long hair) is a moniker he has carried since the 1970s because of his powerful break.
Francisco “Django” Bustamante
Another prolific Filipino billiard player is Francisco Bustamante, popularly known with the nickname “Djanggo. He was born in 1963 in Tarlac. He is also sometimes called “Bustie”, especially in the US. For 2007, he was ranked #7 in Pool & Billiard Magazine’s “Fans’ Top 20 Favorite Players’ poll. Despite the fact he never won a world championship, Bustamante is rated second to “The Magician” when it comes to recognition.
Alex “The Lion” Pagulayan
The last, but certainly not the least is the baby-faced assassin Alejandro (Alex) Salvador Pagulayan. Alex was born in 1978; he is a Filipino-Canadian professional pool player. His nicknames are “The Lion” and “The Killer Pixie”. He was born in the province of Isabela (the same province where I was born) and was raised in Canada. In 2004, Pagulayan returned to the Philippines. He is known for his relaxed demeanor during competition, and is a crowd favorite, well-liked because of his comedic interaction with the audience. He was second in the 2006 World Pool Masters.
All these players are world-class. Other promising Filipino billiard players are Lee Van Corteza, Antonio Gabica, Antonio Lining, Jose “Amang” Parica, Marlon Manalo, Jefff “Bata” De Luna and a lot more. Watch billiard tournaments and you will always find a competing Filipino player.