10-Ball has been getting more and more popular around the world. The Florida Pro Tour has adapted the fastest and been preferring this discipline over 9-Ball for several years in the Sunshine State already. Players including myself seem to like this advanced rotation game. Is 10-ball the pocket billard game of the future ?
The Philippines has realized the trend as well. Raya Sports and the Billiards & Snooker Congress Of The Philippines (BSCP) started a new 10-Ball tour (the Philippine 10-Ball Tour) which will feature stops in Puerto Princesa, Cebu City, Davao City, Subic-Olongapo, Clark-Angeles and Pasay City.
The President of Raya Sports Mr Yen Makabenta invited me to be part when the tour kicked off in Mandaluyong City, the heart of Metro Manila on May 6th...
We had a full field of 64 players including top guns like Johnny Archer, Satoshi Kawabata, Marlon Manalo, Jeff de Luna, Antonio Gabica and Leonardo Andam.
For the first four days the Mandaluyong City Hall served us as the host venue. The place was frequently visited by spectators and the event was very well organized.
My game got stronger with every match that I played. On the first day I beat Deleon B. Lopez from the Philippines with 9:2, on day number two R. Eborda from the Philippines with 9:3 and on the third day Gerry Watson from Canada with 9:4.
Let me add at this point that we were playing call-shot, which means I had to call the ball and the pocket before taking on the shot. A little new for me was that whenever a player made a ball unintentionally or didn't call it, the incoming player had the option to take over or give the table back to the opponent.
I rarely saw players stringing more than two racks together. Not like in 9-Ball when a four-, five- or sixpack is very common. 10-Ball seems to be a bit tougher and specially on the break you won't see the corner ball flying in all the time, like it happens in 9-Ball a lot. I start liking this game, but have to figure out the right break myself...
I continued with another win over K. Tuguchi from Japan with 9:5 and the dream match was set for the evening. Marlon versus Toasti
I started out very strong, using every opportunity given to me to jump out for a 5:0 lead over Marlon, who was born in Mandaluyong City and lives just down the road. Next he played a nice cross bank in the corner but had forgotten to call it. It was obvious to me that he intended to go for the shot, so I told the referee to let Marlon continue. And the momentum changed...
Next thing I know I was trailing 5:6 and I didn't get any rolls in the end. At hill-hill I broke, but failed to make a ball. Marlon played a safe on the 3ball. I kicked at it to combo another ball in, but unfortunately left him a very easy combo to start his run-out. It could have ended up in an awkward position for him easily but it wasn't the case and Marlon cleared the table.
The following day we tranferred across the street to the Kaban ng Hiyas Auditorium, a city hall that looks like it was build for a pool tournament, beautiful ! With only one table and six players left all matches from now were shown live on Philippine national television.
My quarterfinal match against Filipino Junior Champion J Banares started out the worst possible. I just didn't get an easy layout to get used to the fast slippery table. Banares played perfect, I missed some safe opportunities and whoom... I was down 0:7 before I got my first real chance. I reduced the damage to a 4:9 defeat and spent the rest of the event as a spectator.
I watched the final match between Marlon Manalo and Antonio Gabica side by side with Mandaluyong's Mayor Benhur Abalos. The Mayor is a very energetic and charismatic person who watched the entire three-hour final match with only one short bathroom break. I had a very nice conversation with him. A person who loves horse-racing, motorbikes and has won several awards as an outstanding mayor who constantly fights poverty in his country. Hopefully we can involve the popularity of pool in the Philippines to help him with some of his projects. He has won me as an admirer...
The final was one-sided in the beginning. Gabica dominated the first few racks, receiving all the layouts and showing no flaws, until Marlon had his chances to catch up but made some uncharacteristic mistakes. Gabica showed a great performance as he broke and ran the three final racks to win 13:8.
The next tour-stop will be in June in beautiful Puerto Princesa in Palawan. I hope I can come back more often and play in as many 10-Ball events in the Philippines as possible !