MANILA, Philippines – Billiards, like boxing, is a sport where you can always count on Filipinos being top contenders for an international championship.
On Monday, November 24 in Amagasaki, Japan, another Filipino arrived on the billiards world stage when relative unknown Raymund Faraon marched through the ranks of big name contenders to sink the final ball and defeat Oi Naoyuki, 11-8, to win the 47th All-Japan Championship men’s title.
“It was a completely surprising result,” admits Faraon, 26, who is rated no. 44 in the world by the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA). “We all know that all the players who join in that tournament are world class players.”
The win was the culmination of years of sacrifice and dedication by Faraon that began in Sipocot, Camarines Sur, Philippines. Faraon began playing at age 12, turned onto the pool table by his father. Within a year he was traveling around the Bicol region playing cash games, earning money to bring to his family.
By age 18 he had left the pool table behind, studying at Lyceum of Subic Bay in Olongapo. For a year Faraon chased a different path before a friend introduced him to a sponsor who wanted him to relocate to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to pursue his billiards dream.
“Because of financial support,” Faraon tells Rappler of his decision to leave his homeland behind. “This is the only way I know in that time to help my family.”
Coming from the nation that produced legendary cue artists Efren “Bata” Reyes and Francisco Bustamante, Faraon quickly found himself becoming a big fish in a puddle, winning the Ramadan 9-Ball open tournament in Dubai in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
“In Dubai I used to be the best and my game stopped on that level,” said Faraon, who is one of 12 Filipinos rated in the WPA’s top 50. “So I decided to go back to the Philippines because here there are so many tough players that could make me stronger. That’s what I believe.”
Road to the top
Faraon, who came back to the Philippines in September, says he tries to practice 2-3 hours a day, while doing conditioning work like jogging a month prior to a tournament.
The opportunity to compete in Japan came after Camarines Sur governor Miguel Villafuerte sponsored his trip. Once in Japan, Faraon pulled off upset after upset, defeating well-regarded compatriots like no. 4 rated Dennis Orcollo and and no. 11 Johann Chua, as well as no. 6 Hewen Li of China en route to joining Reyes and Bustamante as winners of the prestigious tournament.
His next appearance will be in the Philippine Open 10 Ball championship, a Manny Pacquiao-sponsored, WPA-sanctioned tournament in General Santos City from December 8-16 which features a top singles purse of $50,000 and a doubles prize of $100,000, according to sports journalist Bob Guerrero.
His last win brought him a title in Japan; his next goal is to conquer the billiards world.
“Just have faith in yourself,” said Faraon. “That’s the strongest thing you can build your own victory.
“My goal is to be one of the best pool player in the whole world. And the achievement I want the most is to be a world number one.” – Rappler.com
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