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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Orcollo registers spectacular win

MANILA, Philippines - If there are still doubts whether his name should be mentioned in the same breath as Filipino pool legends Efren “Bata” Reyes and Francisco “Django” Bustamante, Dennis Orcollo lifted it all with a spectacular victory Saturday.

The former fisherman from Bislig in Surigao del Sur completed a glorious week by conquering Niels Feijen of The Netherlands, 10-3, in the finals to reign as the new World 8-Ball king at the Fujairah Exhibition Centre in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The victory cemented Orcollo’s status as one of the best cue artists of his generation as he became only the sixth Filipino world champion and third Filipino 8-ball titleholder.

The others in the elite list of champions include Reyes (9-ball – 1999, 8-ball – 2005), Bustamante (9-ball – 2010), Alex Pagulayan (9-ball – 2004), Ronnie Alcano (9-ball, 8-ball in 2006 and 07), and Rubilen Amit (10-ball – 2009).

Cheered by a boisterous Filipino crowd who watched the game, Orcollo led from start to finish on the way to pocketing the winner’s purse of $40,000 (roughly P1.76 million), a windfall much too big than his P300 earnings he gets for two nights out in the seas of Mindanao before.

Feared in the money game circuit, Orcollo came through with superb break and exquisite shot-making as the “Money Game King” won the lag and zoomed to a commanding 5-0 lead.

Feijen, who settled for second place for the second straight year, threatened after that by stringing up three racks to pull within 3-5, but a costly mistake in the ninth rack doomed his bid.

It was a sweet victory for the Orcollo, who had to battle back from the loser’s side to claim the title, which he nearly won four years ago.

He came close to winning the same mint in 2007, but lost to Alcano in the finals also in the UAE.

The triumph extended Orcollo’s sizzling streak that started three months ago when he beat compatriot Warren Kiamco to bag the gold medal in the 9-ball event of the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.

He also ruled the United States Derby City Classic 9-Ball tournament on his 32nd birthday last January 28 in Indiana, where he bagged $25,000 (about P1.1 million).

For winning gold at the Asian Games, Orcollo will be named as one of the “Athletes of the Year” by the Philippine Sportswriters Association, joining Bustamante and fellow Asian Games gold medalists in boxing Rey Saludar and Biboy Rivera in bowling.

Orcollo, whose love for billiards began by playing with marbles placed on a makeshift table, and others are scheduled to receive the awards on Saturday at the historic landmark Manila Hotel.

Orcollo’s feat also affirmed the country’s status as the world’s billiards hotbed as he became the second Filipino world champion in a span of seven months – or after Bustamante hoisted the World 9-Ball title in Doha, Qatar last July 5 at the expense of Taiwanese Kuo Po-Cheng, 13-7.


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