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Filipinos rule SEA Games billiards

Michelle Lojo - Philstar.com
Filipinos rule SEA Games billiards
Efren "Bata" Reyes at the 30th Southeast Asian Games
Philstar.com / Luisa Morales

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino cue artists reigned supreme in the 31st Southeast Asian Games at the Ha Dong Gymnasium, winning their quarterfinal and semifinal matches in all events Monday.

Efren "Bata" Reyes opened his bid for a SEA Games gold medal in the men's 1-cushion carom against Thailand's Suriya Suwannasingh. The legendary cue artist had several misfires and trailed 1-13 in the opening innings.

But there's a reason Reyes is called "The Magician". In the 20th inning, he managed to cut his opponent's lead to four, 22-26. But both players continued to suffer from miscalculations and by the 30th inning, they were a far cry away from the 100-point race, 42-49.

With just a handful of innings left, it looked like Reyes was on his way to an early exit. He, however, not only caught up with his opponent, but he also took a 57-53 lead and by the 38th inning, increased it to 60-53.

In his last ball, Reyes boosted his lead to 65-56 but a miss on both balls gave his opponent the advantage and had the audience on the edge of their seats. As the Thai player managed to earn two more points, Reyes' initial lead was enough to push the Filipino icon through the semifinals, 65-58.

Like in the previous games, Suwannasingh and even the referee asked for a photo with the Reyes.

Another Filipino bet in the men's 1-cushion Carom, Francisco Dela Cruz -- Reyes' fellow bronze medalist in the 2019 SEA Games in the same category -- is also through to the semis after beating Thailand's Sompol Saetang.

Other Filipino cue artists won their matches to assure themselves of at least a bronze medal in three different categories.

Carlo Biado and Johann Chua both won their quarterfinal matches, 9-3 and 9-4 respectively, to advance in the men's 9-ball pool singles.

For her part, Rubilen Amit is one step closer in defending her crown as she bested Vietnam's Xuan Van Bui, 7-4 in the women's 9-ball pool singles semis.

Jefrey Roda started and finished strong in the men's snooker 6-red category.

He began the day with an easy 5-1 win against Thailand's Kritsanut Lertsattayathorn in the quarterfinals.

With little rest, Roda geared up once again to face Malaysia's Keen Hoo Moh in the semifinals. In a nail-bitter of a match, Roda eventually won 5-4 to advance to the finals, assured of a silver -- an  improvement from his bronze medal finish in the 2019 Games.

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