Without the leverage that moneyed backers can bring, don’t expect another boom in billiard sports anytime soon.
Newly crowned US Open champion Carlo Biado said on Tuesday that amplifying his latest feat to relaunch billiards into the sport of choice hinges on private sponsorship just like in the good old days when several Filipino cue wizards, led by icons Efren “Bata’’ Reyes and Francisco “Django’’ Bustamante, ruled the roost.
“Sponsors interested in this kind sport will allow billiards to experience a boom again,’’ said Biado in Filipino during the Philippine Sportswriters Association online forum.
Gone were the days when private sponsors led by billiards godfather Aristeo “Putch’’ Puyat and San Miguel Corporation, among others, helped local players become champions overseas.
Aside from Reyes and Bustamante, who made inroads in the global cue sports scene, the likes of Ronnie Alcano, Dennis Orcollo and Alex Pagulayan followed that track of prosperity for Filipino players that lasted for over a decade.
National coach Rodolfo Luat, Jose Parica, Leonardo Andam, Antonio Lining, Lee Van Corteza, Antonio Gabica, Jeff De Luna and Marlon Manalo likewise belonged to the highly esteemed cast who etched their names in foreign tournaments.
“There are several new local players who are really good. What they need is the international exposure for them to get better and eventually win tournaments,’’ said Biado, who moved up in the world rankings from 17th overall to No. 14.
“They lack exposure because of the lack of sponsors,’’ added Biado after pocketing the $50,000 (about P2.5 million) in the US Open Pool Championships in Atlantic City, New Jersey, last weekend.
Private backers are needed because mounting an overseas campaign for these players isn’t cheap.
In the case of Biado, he arrived in the United States more than four months ago to try his luck on a handful of local and international tournaments.
It took him at least seven tournaments—the Texas Open, Austin Open, Sacramento Open, Big-Time Classic Open, International World 10-ball Championships, Diamond Open and finally the prestigious US Open—to achieve his goal.
Biado, also the 2017 World 9-ball champion, will be heading home on Sept. 28, with his wife Niecky and would take the rest of the year off from foreign meets. He already begged off from the International Open in Virginia next month, citing the time needed for his family.
Billiards Sports Confederation of the Philippines secretary general Robert Mananquil enumerated at least three tournaments for the national team that Biado can play in, the 2022 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (Aimag) in Thailand and the 2022 Vietnam Southeast Asian Games, among them.
Biado also needs to defend his men’s 9-ball title in the 2022 World Games scheduled in Birmingham, Alabama, in July.
“For now, I will take a long rest to refresh and relax. I will return to the US early next year to join local tournaments, which will serve as my training for the Aimag,’’ said Biado. INQ
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