Reyes eyes 1st SEAG gold
Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes
Reyes eyes 1st SEAG gold
Rizanelle Beltran (The Philippine Star) - December 3, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — He would have gladly given way to younger cue masters but, lacking Filipino cushion carom players, billiards legend Efren “Bata” Reyes, at 65, will still bring his stuff and try to help boost the medal drive of the powerhouse Team Phl in the 30th SEA Games billiards competitions that kick off today at the Manila Hotel Tent.

Reyes has his personal mission.

As even for all his exploits in the world stage, Reyes has yet to reach a top podium finish in the biennial games.

What he has got is a string of bronze medals in 1 cushion carom and 3 cushion carom events that are gold mines for Vietnam.

The Vietnamese have not missed the top plums in these events, topping 1 cushion carom from its first staging in Manila in 2005 to the last in Singapore in 2015.

The best the Philippines had got was silver courtesy of Francisco dela Cruz in 2011. Reyes and Dela Cruz both failed to make it past the semifinals in 2013 in Naypyidaw and in 2015 in Singapore.

Both making another hurrah, Reyes and Dela Cruz hope to end Vietnam’s unbeaten run.

Then there’s the expected show of the Filipino world champs and regional titlists in 9-ball and 8-ball events.

The Filipinos have been the undisputed kings and queens in 8-ball, with Dennis Orcollo (2015) and Carlo Biado (2017) ruling the last two stagings of men’s 9-ball, and Rubilen Amit, Iris Ranola and Czeska Centeno taking turns to win the gold in the distaff side.

All these five players are in the talent-laden team of coaches Reyes and Francisco “Django” Bustamante.

“We’re hoping to win golds in the six pool events,” said Billiard Sports Confederation of the Philippines secretary-general Robert Mananquil, referring to the singles and doubles in 9-ball and 10-ball in both men’s and women’s.

Jeffrey Roda, who reached the finals of the World Snooker Championship last month, spearheads the snooker team, which looks to spring a surprise on the more established rivals.

“He was runner-up in the World Snooker Championship in Turkey so he is a contender here,” said Manaquil of Roda, who missed out on the world title after a absorbing 5-8 loss to Pakistani Mohammad Asif in the final.

First up in the Manila hostilities are preliminaries in men’s 9-ball doubles, men’s snookers doubles, one-cushion carom and women’s 10-ball singles.

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