Yes, the Lion roars once again.
2004 World Champion Alex “the Lion” Pagulayan of the Philippines recently ruled the 2008 PartyPoker.net World Pool Masters 9- Ball Tournament by beating the Iceman from Finland, Mika Immonen 8- 6 held May 9-11 at the Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas to add the title to his already impressive resume.
The diminutive Pagulayan has once been accused of “sharking” by some Filipino billiards officials during one of the Legs of the Asian 9- Ball Tour in the past that led to him declining to play under the Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) sanctioned tournaments which in turn eventually led to a falling out with the said group.
On a side note, the BSCP now has to contend with a new player in the scene, the Billiards Managers Associations of the Philippines (BMAP) which is composed of the managers of the biggest and brightest pool players in the Philippines headed by the Legend Efren “Bata” Reyes, Django Bustamante, Ronato Alcano, Dennis Orcollo and of course Alex Pagulayan among others who broke away from them over disagreement in principles.
I think the Philippine officials were just over-reacting and trying to obscure the real issue against them and Pagulayan: money- matters. Alex Pagulayan is known for being a comedian in person and his comedic antics during competition, which is mostly directed at himself, make him usually the crowd- favorite.
Sharking, by the way, is a behavior used by hustlers to cause their opponents to lose focus. This kind of behavior may be banned in various competitions around the world but it is an accepted practice in pool halls in the Philippines where money- game duel is the usual norm. This is done by either the opposite player or by his supporters not only to cheer for their favorite player but also to distract their opponents.
Sharking I think is what separates the Filipino pool players from the rest since they were so used to the noise and distractions back home that they usually remain composed during big time tournaments abroad.
Anyway, this latest victory by a Filipino cue master in a top- notch tournament once again proved that Filipinos are still the best pool players in the world today, hands down.