Carlo Biado is hopeful that his triumph in the 2021 U.S. Open Pool Championship will be the start of another boom period for Philippine billiards, but he stressed that the cue artists cannot get it done by themselves.
Biado became the first Filipino in 27 years to rule the prestigious tournament when he rallied from a five-rack deficit to stun Singapore’s Aloysius Yapp, 13-8, in the final last Sunday in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Not since the legendary Efren “Bata” Reyes in 1994 had a Filipino cue artist won the event.
“Magandang halimbawa ito para sa mga katulad kong bilyarista, na nangangarap na gumaling at lumaban sa iba’t ibang bansa,” said Biado on the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum, Tuesday.
“Maganda itong pagkapanalo ko, at na-inspire ko sila,” he added.
But inspiration alone cannot fuel Philippine billiards to rise to the heights it reached during the heydays of Reyes and Francisco “Django” Bustamante. For Biado, there needs to be a sponsor who will bankroll the cue artists and pave the way for their participation in both local and international events.
“Alam mo para mag-boom ulit ang bilyar sa atin, kailangan merong sponsor or mahilig sa bilyar na magka-interesado sa ganyang laro,” said Biado.
Biado noted that it was the sponsorship of people like Aristeo “Putch” Puyat and the Puyat Sports Group that elevated the sport in the late 1990s and 2000s. Puyat is known as the “godfather” of Philippine billiards and backed the careers of both Reyes and Bustamante. The Puyat Sports Group operated billiards halls all around the country as well.
“Ang talagang nagpa-boom ng bilyar sa atin, si Sir Puyat. Kung kilala niyo ‘yun, si Mr. Puyat, si Sir Putch, ‘yan ang nagpa-boom ng bilyar sa atin,” he said.
“Sana merong ganoon, or pwede nating ilapit kay Senador Manny Pacquiao na sana magkaroon ng mga pa-event diyan sa atin, sa Pilipinas. Siguro pagkatapos ng pandemic,” he added. “Pwede ‘yan, para mahikayat natin ‘yung mga player na magagaling sa Pilipinas.”
Biado pointed out that there are plenty of excellent pool players in the Philippines — something that was made clear in the US Open when four Filipinos made it to the last 16. Aside from Biado, also qualifying in the knockout rounds were Rodrigo Geronimo, Dennis Orcollo, and Johann Chua.
Biado eliminated Chua in the quarterfinals. Yapp then prevented an All-Filipino final when he ousted the veteran Orcollo in the semis, 11-6, but Biado emerged triumphant in the race-to-13 finals.
There are also plenty of rising stars in the Philippines who can one day compete at the international level, according to Biado.
“Hindi tayo dehado sa larangan ng bilyar. Tayo ang tinitingala ng mga ibang player, sa iba’t ibang bansa, na ang Pilipino ang nangunguna sa bilyar,” he stressed.
But he again emphasized the need for backers who will help these young players gain the experience they need in order to reach that level.
“Sa totoo lang, marami tayong player diyan na mga bata na kailangan ng mga sponsor para mabigyan din sila ng chance na makalabas ng ibang bansa, at marating ‘yung mga narating nila Tatay Efren at nila Ronnie Alcano, ako, na nangangarap na gustong manalo at lumaban sa ibang bansa,” Biado said.
“Talagang kulang lang tayo sa sponsor at suporta. Ayun lang ang kailangan natin para makapag-compete din ‘yung mga player din natin sa Pilipinas.”(C.B. Naredo, abs-cbn)