The success of Filipino shooters has changed the perception of pool as a poor man’s game, and helped build future world champions like Biado and Rubilen Amit, ranked the third best female player in the world, who grew up watching pool on TV.
One of the watershed moments was Reyes winning the world nine-ball title in 1999, a match televised live back home.
“It really opened the consciousness of Filipinos that it’s a legitimate sport. A lot of Filipinos gravitated towards that,” Guinto, the sports psychologist, said.
Amit started out working in her family’s cargo logistics business, but when it hit the rocks financially she turned to pool.
“Basketball was my first love, but I am not tall enough. So I pursued billiards,” Amit told AFP, echoing the national obsession with hoops.
“Playing billiards helped my family. In 2009, I was blessed to win the world championships and be given financial blessings. That’s how we recovered,” Amit, 38, said.
The win-or-go-hungry attitude is key, but players may also get a boost from the nation’s legion of iffy pool tables.
“Players in poor communities aren’t picky about table surfaces. In fact, the bumpy surfaces may have bred better cue masters,” Severino Sarmenta, a professor and veteran sportswriter, told AFP.
PICTURES BY TED ALJIBE/ afp