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02-22-2005, 12:26 PM
Gabica stuns Reyes; Bustamante easily gains

Posted 11:45pm (Mla time) Feb 22, 2005
By Marlon Bernardino
Inquirer News Service



Editor's Note: Published on page A25 of the February 23, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

EFREN "Bata" Reyes' worst fear came true. He was beaten by Antonio "Gaga" Gabica last night.

Before the start of the Hope P1-Million All-Filipino Billiards Open, Reyes said he's wary of local players more than foreigners because of their intense desire to topple him at home.

It turned out he was right as Gabica, the reigning Philippine 9-Ball champion, blanked Reyes for five straight racks en route to a stunning 9-4 victory at the IBC 13 studios in Quezon City.

Reyes' first defeat in two games sent shock waves to the other acknowledged cue masters, including bosom buddy Francisco "Django" Bustamante, the world's No.1 last year.

Facing promising Jeffrey "Young Bata" de Luna, Bustamante used his vast international experience to hack out a 9-4 victory in the afternoon games at the AMF Puyat Billiard Hall in Ever Gotesco Mall Commonwealth branch in Quezon City.

"Ganyan talaga ang laro, may talo (That's how the game goes, sometimes you lose)," said the 50-year-old Reyes, the game's top money earner last year.

While admitting that he got lucky on the break, Gabica said he also felt confident that he could beat his godfather (Reyes) because he was hitting his shots very well.

The defeat relegated Reyes to the loser's side where he's slated to meet Joven Alba today.

Gabica, who dumped another seeded player in Warren Kiamco (9-7) in the opening round Monday, will be facing the winner of the Lee Vann Corteza- Rodolfo Luat tussle being held at presstime.

After winning the lag, the Biel, Germany-based Bustamante scored three consecutive racks to set the tone of the lopsided match.

De Luna, the youngest qualifier at 20, rallied to within 3-2 only to watch Bustamante take the next two racks for a 5-2 edge.

Undaunted, De Luna, who got the Young Bata tag because of his penchant for trick shots like his idol Reyes, again closed in at 6-4.

A scratch after a shot at the No. 2 ball in the 11th rack, however, doomed De Luna's upset bid as Bustamante cleaned up the table and proceeded to seal the win.

"May future y'ung bata (De Luna), nakikita ko ng aking kabataan sa kanya (The kid has a bright future, I was like him in my younger years)," said Bustamante. "Malakas siyang sumargo, y'ung nga lang walang pumapasok. (He has a strong break, unfortunately the ball doesn't fall in).

Bustamante said De Luna might have been too eager because he still lacks practice and international exposure.