SEVERAL top pool players have started to move out and seek greener pastures overseas as the decline in the number of big billiards tournaments in the country continued to chip away at the Philippines’ dominance in the sport.
"Walang mga malalaking laban. Kaya paano mabubuhay ang mga bilyarista natin," Bugsy Promotions chief Perry Mariano told Spin.ph. "Dati pag may international tournaments, lagi tayo ang sure winner. Ngayon, kahit Vietnam at Taiwan na mga bagito, tinalo na tayo."
"Nakikita mo pa ba o nadidinig yung mga dating superstars? Wala na di ba?"
While the two biggest Filipino pool stars, Efren 'Bata' Reyes and Django Bustamante, can afford to make the Philippines their base, other local players have either migrated to the US or taken jobs overseas to sustain their careers.
Former world champion Ronnie Alcano left for the US in August and is said to be focusing on poker, while Asian Games gold medalist Warren Kiamco has likewise made the States his base.
Several players have also turned to teaching pool in other countries. Among them is Doha Asiad gold winner Antonio Gabica, who is now based in the Middle East where he earns a living training locals.
"Madami tayong mga player kinukuha sa abroad para mag train. Kaya kita mo yung mga tumatalo sa atin, teknolohiyang Pinoy ang gamit sa billiards," Mariano said.
Others have quit top-level pool altogether.
Mariano said former World Cup runner-up Roberto Gomez has stopped training because of financial difficulties.
Former world 8-ball champion and world No. 1 Dennis Orcollo is still based in the country, but he himself is thinking about taking his act elsewhere.
"May mga alok pero tinitimbang ko pa," he said. "Mahirap din kasi malayo sa pamilya at mga kaibigan dito."