Sharks 9-ball looks to revive local pool scene 

Philip Matel

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Sharks 9-ball looks to revive local pool scene 

CHAMP. Ko Ping Chung celebrates winning the Sharksu00a0International 9-Ball Open.u00a0

Sharks Billiard League

‘Asian organizations are very much aware that the talent pool is still strong and are open to any new developments in the sport,’ says Mark Orendain of Sharks Billiard League

MANILA, Philippines — The local billiards scene has hit a rough patch for the past decade. 

However, one organizer has decided to jumpstart the revival of the sport through the staging of the Sharks International 9-Ball Open at the Great White Arena in Tomas Morato, Quezon City recently.

Taiwanese Ko Ping Chung copped the inaugural championship and the $30,000 (around P1.67 million) prize money after beating Filipino Michael Feliciano, 17-13.

Ko, a former world 10-ball champion, overcame a 5-2 deficit and broke a 12-12 tie, getting the final five of six racks on the way to the title.

He lorded over 128 participants, 64 of which were seeded internationally and 64 of local origin.

“It was a long week of matches against professionals and amateurs from around the globe and I’m honored to have played with them,” said Ko. 

“I’m also grateful to the Sharks Billiard League for setting the stage and giving us the chance to compete with great opponents and for providing a very comfortable and world-class arena for us,” he added.

Feliciano, on the other hand, took home $15,000 (P833,000) in a runner-up showing.

Semifinalists bagged $7,500 (P417,000); quarterfinalists $3,750 (P208,000); last 16 participants $1,725 (P96,000); and Last 32 $700 (P39,000).

Organizers brought in top-notch pool players Francisco Sanchez Ruiz and Earl Strickland, alongside local legends Efren “Bata” Reyes and Francisco “Django” Bustamante to grace the opening of the Sharks Billiard League’s twin arenas, with the other located in nearby Sgt. Esguerra.

Owners of the new facilities hope that state-of-the-art venue can cultivate new talent for the sport, which continues to cling on icons of the past.

“The local players are now inspired. They are very hopeful for their careers in the sport,” said Mark Orendain, marketing head of Sharks.

“In order for us to really elevate the sport, we can’t just think of icons of the past, what we’re really looking to is to develop the industry of the sport to cultivate more for the future. “

Among the facilities they have put up in the Great White Arena is the “Shark Tank,” a sound-proof room with a pool table and broadcast-ready setups.

People upstairs can view people playing through three transparent panels and can cheer as loud as they can without causing distraction to the participants blow.

In coordination with United Kingdom-based outfit Matchroom, the aim for Sharks is to hold several more international tournaments that would keep people buzzing in the foreseeable future.

For now, Sharks holds daily games, including Race to 9, 11, and 90 affairs staged in the morning, midday, and evening.

“International fans know the caliber of Philippine players, even though in the past several years, there haven’t been proper platforms,” said Orendain.

“Asian organizations are very much aware that the talent pool is still strong and are open to any new developments in the sport.” –

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