MANILA– The magic may have waned, but the legend lives on.
Even at the age of 65, Efren "Bata" Reyes remains one of the top draws in Philippine sports as shown during the recent 30th Southeast Asian Games.
The iconic pool player with the charismatic smile still drew crowds, and was easily the most sought-after member of the men's billiards and snooker team.
Reyes, with his deteriorating eyesight, settled for a bronze in the men's carom (1-cushion) – not exactly his pet event – during the biennial meet. Still, he proved to be an inspiring presence for the pool team that won 12 medals, four of which were golds.
For all his greatness, "The Magician" has not been able to conquer the SEA Games. He has never won a gold, instead collecting five bronzes in the men's carom.
Yet that does not diminish what Reyes has achieved in the pool table, where he is universally acknowledged as one of the greatest – if not the greatest – of all time.
For that, Reyes is set to be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) during its Awards Night on March 6 at the Centennial Hall of the Manila Hotel.
"Bata" will also serve as a special guest speaker during the gala night, in a rare function for a man known for his few words. He is the second straight athlete to become a guest speaker in the event, following Olympian Bea Lucero last year.
Team Philippines is the recipient of the Athlete of the Year honor from the country's oldest media organization, for their achievement of winning the overall championship in the SEA Games.
Reyes has won the Athlete of the Year award three times – in 1999, 2001, and 2006.
The PSA honored bowling great Bong Coo and cycling champion Paquito Rivas with the Lifetime Achievement award last year.
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