DENNIS Orcollo and Iris Ranola face the possibility of not being able to defend their gold medals in the Southeast Asian Games as the Billiard Sports Confederation of the Philippines begins a revamp of the national pool this year.
BSCP president Arturo Ilagan said in a recent letter to the Philippine Sports Commission that they are set to replace current members of the national pool like Orcollo, Ranola, and Rubilen Amit, with young and upcoming talents.
“This is to inform you that the members of the 2012 national training pool will be replaced effective January after the submission of the new line-up for 2013 national training pool together with the 2013 budget,” said Ilagan in his letter to the PSC.
Contacted by Spin.ph, Ilagan confirmed that several top players faces the ax because they did not sign up for the PSC’s priority athletes program mainly because as professional players, they couldn’t meet the demand that they play full time for the national team.
“One of the conditions na kailangan under the priority program is kailangan full-time sila, which they cannot (do) because of them being professionals. Hindi sila puwede mag-full time because they have their own managers, program, and training,” said Ilagan.
“I think ’yun ang difficulty nila. And that’s the reason why they don’t want us to sign their contract because they don’t want to be under us,” Ilagan said.
However, Ilagan left the door open for the previous members of the national pool to return and play for the country in the SEA Games.
“If they want to, choice nila ’yun, they sign up with us. Pero if they don’t want to, what can we do?” Ilagan said.
The Philippines collected three gold medals in the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia, with Ranola winning the women’s 8-ball and 9-ball events and Orcollo capturing the men’s 8-ball title.
The development is seen as another setback for Philippine billiards, which has already seen top players including former world champion Ronnie Alcano, Warren Kiamco, and Antonio Gabica move overseas.
Fil-Canadian Alex Pagulayan had also decided to play for Canada in international competitions. In a previous interview with Spin.ph, Pagulayan’s agent Jim Wych admitted that "politics in the BSCP" was one of the main reasons for the switch.
The BSCP itself is plagued by a leadership squabble, with longtime billiards patron Aristeo Puyat and Ilagan both claiming to be the rightful head of the federation.