KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Filipino billiards legend Efren "Bata" Reyes was utterly unsurprised at the result of their quarterfinals match in the English billiards doubles, where he teamed up with Francisco dela Cruz against a pair from Vietnam.
The veteran Filipino duo lost in three quick frames, with scores of 90-100, 33-100, and 72-100. Binh Nguyen and Tran Le Anh Tuan moved on to the semis, where they will play against a tandem from Myanmar.
Reyes, who earned the moniker of "The Magician" during his heyday, could only smile when asked about the result.
"Talagang ganyan," he said. "Expected na namin na ganoon ang mangyayari eh. Tsaka hindi namin talaga laro itong English billiards. Laro talaga natin ay pool eh."
The game, which originated in Great Britain, is markedly different from the eight-, nine-, and even ten-ball events that Filipinos are more accustomed to. From the balls to the size of the table, to the cue sticks themselves, the event was something that even the great "Bata" Reyes was not totally comfortable with.
"Wala sa lugar mga tira namin ngayon," Reyes lamented. "Nagbabago kasi eh. Lalo na 'yung tako ng kasama ko, hindi naman panglaro talaga ng English billiards."
"Hindi ako nakakatira ng maganda eh, hindi ko kabisado ang takbo," he further admitted.
In his youth, Reyes said, he could have still triumphed in the event, but now, he is simply too out of practice. His partner, Dela Cruz, revealed that they only practiced the event for around two months, whereas their foes have been practicing for years.
"Hindi talaga natin ito laro, tsaka wala tayong player. Ayaw ng mga player natin ang English billiards," said Reyes.
"Kung medyo bata-bata pa (ako), pwede pa. Eh ngayon, iba na eh. Iba 'yung laro ng English billiard kapag hindi ka ano sa pulso," he added.
Reyes said that the Philippines' medal hopes in billiards lies not in this event, but in pool.
"Sigurado naman 'yun, doon panalo ang mga players natin," he said. "Ang mga players natin sa pool, mas magaling pa nga sa akin."
"Kasi dito sa English billiards, wala tayong player," he stressed.
Even so, Reyes is not shying away from the event completely. He will still compete in the singles event, but made it clear that it is the Filipino pool players that will bring the medal haul.
"Nasa pool ang pag-asa natin," he said.
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