WHILE he’s now playing and representing Canada, Alex Pagulayan still remains very much a Filipino at heart.
And given the chance in the future to once again don the national colors, the former World 9-Ball champion won’t hesitate to do so again.
“I preferred to represent the Philippines,” he admitted shortly after he and partner John Morra were eliminated in the round-of-32 of the World Cup of Pool, 8-5, by the legendary Filipino tandem of Efren `Bata’ Reyes and Francisco `Django’ Bustamante at the Robinsons Midtown Mall in Ermita.
“But for me, there’s a lot of good Filipino billiards players here so I started to give up and play for Canada instead.”
The player dubbed `The Lion’ was born in Cabagan, Isabela but was raised in Toronto, Canada after his family migrated when he was 13-years-old.
The 36-year-old pool player returned to the country in 2004 shortly after his shock victory in the World 9-Ball, and then donned the national colors in the 2005 Southeast Asian Games where he emerged a triple gold medal winner.
But as the world’s mecca of billiards, the Philippines has become too crowded even for a great player of Pagulayan’s stature that he had no choice but to return to Canada and represent the country instead in various international competitions.
He did just that in the World Cup of Pool, engaging the Filipino crowd in live and animated conversations, unmindful that he now dons a red stripped polo shirt with the Canada patch.
“As much as I would want to play (for the Philippines), I have no choice. I cannot stop my career as this is the only thing I know of how to make a living for my family and for myself,” said Pagulayan.
“And I don’t mind playing for Canada, anyway.”
Pagulayan is also looking forward to playing against Reyes and Bustamante again – both of whom are his idols – knowing he has an unfinished business with his fellow Filipinos following his and Mora’s early exit in the World Cup.
“I was too excited to play against them and I can’t wait to get a rematch,” said Pagulayan. “I don’t know if I’m gonna beat them, but I’m looking forward to playing with them again.”