MANILA, Philippines – Billiards icon Efren “Bata” Reyes once again demonstrated why he is one of the greatest athletes to ever wield a cue stick as he turned in a masterful performance in his first outing at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
The 65-year-old native of Mexico, Pampanga defeated Thailand’s Punyawee Thongchai, 100-37, in what was billed as a one-cushion carom game on Wednesday, December 4 at the packed Manila Hotel Tent.
Right off the bat, Reyes took control of the race-to-100-points duel as he was relentless in tallying points on his scoreboard, creating a huge gap between him and his Thai foe, 50-14.
After reaching the halfway mark, Reyes was relegated to fewer successful caroms whenever it was his turn.
However, Reyes still posed problems for Thongchai as the Filipino legend’s lead was too big to trim down. It did not take long for the hometown favorite to hammer the final nail in the coffin.
“Hindi nga ako kinabahan sa laro na ito,” he said in jest.
(I don’t even feel nervous about this game.)
When asked if he was satisfied with his performance, Reyes responded: “Hindi. Sa ganun klase ng laro, hindi gaganahan ang mga pumunta dito para manood. Saglit lang dapat at natapos na sana ang laro.”
(No, with that kind of game, fans won’t even bother to come here and watch it. The game should have been over quickly.)
Even though he was not fully pleased with his performance against Thongchai, Reyes booked himself a semifinal slot, putting him closer to his dream of capturing the elusive SEA Games gold medal. (READ: Seeking first SEA Games gold, Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes plays in unique pool event)
While Reyes was triumphant in his first game in the regional meet, two of the country’s representatives failed in the semifinal round of the 9-ball men’s doubles tournament.
Despite steamrolling their opponents in the first two stages of the competition, Carlo Biado and Johann Chua absorbed a devastating 2-9 loss to the Singaporean pair of Toh Lian Han and Aloysius Yapp.
Han and Yapp lambasted the powerhouse duo of Biado and Chua, scoring 7 straight racks to start their race-to-9 match.
The Filipinos put themselves on board in the 8th and 9th sets, but the Singaporeans prevented Biado and Chua from gaining momentum and cleared the next two tables for the victory.
Warren Kiamco and Jeffrey Ignacio suffered the same fate in the other semifinal bracket, bowing to Myanmar’s tandem of Thu Aung Moe and Phone Myint Kyaw, 8-9.
The group of Kiamco and Ignacio will go head-to-head with compatriots Biado and Chua on Thursday, December 5 at the same venue.
The Philippines also received disastrous news in snooker. Michael Angelo Mengorio and Basil Hasan Al Shajjar dropped a 0-3 defeat to Singapore’s Chun Kiat Lim and Kingsley Tian Yi Ang in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Alvin Barbero and Jefrey Roda clipped the Thai tandem of Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon and Passakorn Suwannawat to keep them in snooker contention.
In the women’s category, Chezka Centeno defeated Thailand’s Waratthanun Sukritthanes, 7-3, to advance to the semifinals of the 10-ball women’s tournament.
On the other hand, Rubilen Amit survived a very busy day, winning two games in a row to make it to the semifinal picture of the 10-ball women’s competition. She capped it off with a 7-1 routing of Vietnam’s Vang Bui Xuan. – Rappler.com
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