SEA Games 2023

‘Bata’ again in SEA Games? Efren Reyes waiting for carom successor

Delfin Dioquino

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‘Bata’ again in SEA Games? Efren Reyes waiting for carom successor

ICON. Efren 'Bata' Reyes continues to represent the Philippines despite his old age.

Lisa Marie David/Rappler

Efren 'Bata' Reyes, 68, has represented the country in the SEA Games for nearly four decades

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino billiards legend Efren “Bata” Reyes is ready to pass the baton.

The 68-year-old icon said he is just waiting for a successor in the carom events as he weighed in on his future in the Southeast Asian Games, having represented the country in the regional showpiece for nearly four decades.

“As long as we have someone who is going to play carom, I’ll give way,” said Reyes in Filipino after his early exit in the recently concluded Cambodia SEA Games.

Reyes has donned the national colors in the SEA Games ever since billiard sports were included in the biennial meet in 1987.

Touted as the greatest pool player of all time, Reyes won three golds, one silver, and one bronze in 1987 and bagged a total of 20 medals throughout his storied SEA Games career.

His medal streak since 2019, though, got busted in Cambodia as Reyes bowed to home bet Woo Donghoon in his opening match in the three-cushion carom singles event.

“We really often have a tough time in carom,” said Reyes, who won a pair of one-cushion carom singles bronzes in 2019 and 2021.

It was a disappointing run for Reyes and the national billiards team in Cambodia as the Philippines got limited to a two-bronze haul just a year after ruling the sport in Vietnam with four golds, four silvers, and two bronzes.

Carlo Biado and Johann Chua got the boot early in the men’s nine-ball singles, while Rubilen Amit and Chezka Centeno were shown the door in the women’s one-cushion and three-cushion carom singles.

The men’s 10-ball singles, women’s nine-ball singles, and women’s 10-ball singles – events that the Philippines topped in Vietnam – were excluded by Cambodian organizers.

Francisco dela Cruz (men’s three-cushion carom singles) and Biado and Chua (men’s nine-ball doubles) clinched bronzes to salvage the Philippines’ campaign. –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.