The hard way for Bata

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — Former two-time world champion Efren “Bata” Reyes needed a lot of doing before beating erstwhile conqueror Joven Bustamante , 8-7, yesterday and entering the Top 16 of the 1st Senate President Manny Villar Cup billiards tournament at the Starmall sportscenter in Alabang, Muntilupa.

The 54-year-year Reyes had a series of dry breaks in the early going of the match and found himself trailing by three racks, 7-4, to the frustration of big crowd who watched the third day of the tournament organized by the Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines (BMPAP).

“Malas ako sa break nung umpisa kaya nung mabigyan ako ng pagkakataon sabi ko dapat may mahulog na sa mga break ko, kung hindi todas ako,” Reyes said.

Reyes finally got a chance to escape the loss when Bustamante got struck by a dry break in what could be a deciding the 12th rack, allowing Reyes to unleash the big rally to the delight of the more than 500 fans.

“Wala naman akong ginawang adjustment sa break, ganun pa rin, pero sinuwerte na lang dahil may nahuhulog na,” Reyes, who lost to Bustamante in the 2004 World 8-ball championship in the United Arab Emirates, said.

Reyes sent the crowd roaring when he sank a tough-angled four-nine combination in the 14th rack. He then ran out the final rack to complete another Houdini act, and rolled into the knockout stage of this P1 million-plus event.

With his victory, Reyes joined Ramil Gallego, Warren Kiamco and Mark Mendoza who defeated respective rivals in the losers’ bracket to barge into the knockout stage of the tournament.