Dennis Orcollo leads Philippines' strong start in US Open Pool Championship

After missing a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the US Open Pool Championship is back with competitions currently being held in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The Philippines has 11 representatives in the prestigious 9-ball meet that features 256 of the world's best pool players, and all but one of them are moving forward to the winners' bracket after Day 1. Two-time U.S. Open finalist Dennis Orcollo led the charge with a 9-0 win against Miguel Angel Giron Mendieta of Honduras.

Seven Filipino cue artists then defeated their counterparts from the U.S. with veteran Warren Kiamco winning over Michael DeLawder, 9-3. Roland Garcia, world no. 20 Johann Gonzales Chua, and Carlo Biado, the highest-ranked Filipino in the WPA rankings at no. 14, made short work of their opening day opponents as well, defeating Nic Torraca (9-2), Steven Way (9-1), and Steve Fleming (9-2), respectively.

Three others had tougher challenges, but Jeffrey De Luna managed to pull through against Edward Abraham, 9-5, while Jeffrey Ignacio overcame Tyler Andolini 9-5 and Roberto Gomez edged out Joseph Testa 9-7.

Daniel Dagotdot and James Aranas rounded out the Philippines' strong start as they defeated India's Jaydev Zaveri, 9-7, and Japan's Sakura Muramatsu, 9-1, respectively. Unfortunately, a Filipino was eliminated with Dan Segui losing back-to-back to Americans Donny Mills, 1-9, and Kang Lee, 3-9.

The US Open, which offers a top prize of $50,000 to the winner, features a double-elimination format where entries bow out of the tournament after suffering two losses. This means it would take 12-15 wins for any of the 256 competitors to make it to the Round of 16.

The last time a Filipino won the US Open was back in 2005 when Alex Pagulayan, who has since represented Canada, defeated Jose Parica in the Finals. The only other Filipino winner was Efren Reyes in 1994 when he beat Nick Varner in the final match.

Filipino cue artists Orcollo, Ronnie Alcano, Lee Van Corteza, and Rudolpho Luat have all made it to the finals only to fall short of the title.

The field of 256 is littered with outstanding entries including five-time US Open winners in world no. 1 Shane Van Boening and the legendary Earl Strickland. Other former US Open champions currently in the competition are defending champion and world no. 2 Joshua Filler and Ralf Souquet of Germany, world no. 3 Jayson Shaw of Scotland, Darren Appleton of England, Mika Immonen of Finland, Corey Deuel of the United States, and Pagulayan.

Filler opened his title defense with an easy 9-2 win over Joseph Blyler of the United States, while Van Boening beat Francesco Candela of Italy by a similar score.