GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes showed why he is a legend – a magician who pulls from his bagful of tricks – overcoming challenges from emerging and young Filipino cue artists to capture the US$50,000 2nd Manny Pacquiao International 10-Ball tournament in a thrilling finals match against an opponent young enough to be his son.
With seeded and top favorites falling in the early rounds, Reyes restored order but not after escaping a breathtaking 11-10 triumph over Demosthenes Pulpul in the championship match.
Reyes started the final day of the individual event with a 9-7 close victory over former doubles champion John Morra of Canada in the Round of 16.
He again held the breath of the crowd with an equally suspenseful win over 22-year old Oliver Medenilla of Camarines Sur who is now based in Dubai as assistant coach of the UAE team, 9-8 to book a seat in the semifinals.
With just 20 minutes rest, Reyes faced Benjie Guevarra in the semifinals and found himself in a 0-4 hole before rallying and wining in a close 9-6 score.
Guevarra earlier claimed the scalp of Kiamco in the Round of 16 before beating Corteza in the quarterfinal to set a semifinal showdown with Reyes.
With Lee Van Corteza, Alex Pagulayan and Warren Kiamco losing in the Round of 16, only Reyes remained among the crowd favorites heading into the quarterfinals.
Quarterfinal victim Medenilla said he succumbed to pressure in the 17th and final rack against the living billiard legend Reyes with the score tied, 8-8.
“My first time to meet him,” Medenilla said.
Reyes on the other hand said the tournament has produced many future Filipino world billiard champions.
The quarterfinals became an all-Filipino affair after Rodney Morris also lost to Michael Feliciano. Feliciano however succumbed to Pulpul in the quarterfinal.
“Magagaling na rin (They are good),” Reyes said.
Reyes won US$13,000 as champion.
The tournament which was hosted and sponsored by Rep. Manny Pacquiao of Sarangani attracted 120 players with several former world pool champions in attendance.
Also among the notables who lost in the elimination and the knockout games were world rated Mika Immonen of Finland and defending champion Thorsten Hohmann of Germany.
Another former world 9-Ball champion who was eliminated was Francisco Bustamante who lost to Reyes in the Round of 32.
Meanwhile, the doubles tourney with a total prize of US$100,000 will start today (December 13).