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04-03-2005, 07:38 AM
Monday, April 04, 2005


Reyes reigns again

By Jimbo Gulle, Sports Editor

JAKARTA: Efren “Bata” Reyes decided he was through with cardiac finishes.

Pouncing on three straight bad breaks by Yang Ching-Shun, Reyes cruised to an 11-6 victory over the fifth seed from Chinese-Taipei on Sunday to lift the crown in the second leg of the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour hosted by the Indonesian capital for the first time.

Pushed to the last rack in his first four matches, the Magician didn’t need to reprise his escape act against Yang, whose misfortunes began just when he had taken a 6-5 lead over the Filipino top seed—and on his birthday at that.

With the Taiwanese star turning up two dry breaks and two scratches off the break in the last six racks, Reyes simply ran out the tables with the help of three brilliant 9-ball combos to pick up the $10,000 winner’s check and the glass trophy in the event organized by ESPN Star Sports.

“You’ve all seen my past matches which were all difficult,” said Bata, who won his firs three matches by 9-8 scores, to the predominantly Filipino audience and his Indon fans, who cheered his triumph at the Hanggar Billiard and Recreation Center.

“This Taiwanese has the best shot among my foes. But if they don’t sink in, it’s really difficult to win,” added Reyes, ranked fifth in the world.

With the victory, the 50-year-old Reyes earned 70 ranking points in the only qualifying tournament in Asia for the World Championships in Taiwan in July.

He also bounced back from a quarterfinal defeat to compatriot Antonio “Gaga” Gabica in the first Tour leg in Singapore almost a month ago.

More significantly, Bata avenged the losses of fellow Filipinos and Puyat Sports teammates Lee Vann Corteza and Gandy Valle here to Yang, who also disposed of Japanese Satoshi Kawabata with ease, 11-6, in the second semis duel.

Valle, the victor of the Singapore leg, had eliminated compatriot and second seed Francisco Bustamante, 9-8, in the second round—keeping Django winless in the third year of the Tour bankrolled by San Miguel Beer and sanctioned by the Asian Pocket Billiards Union.

Yang’s loss to Bata was eerily similar to that of his compatriot Wu Chia-Ching, who dropped the last five racks to Reyes when his break likewise failed him in their semifinal match in the morning.

Ranked 38th in the world, Yang had taken a 3-1 lead on Bata in the race-to-11 finals.

But after his break turned up empty in the decisive 13th frame with the match tied 6-6, he knew he would be settling for the $5,000 runner-up purse.

“The turning point came when my break came up dry,” said Yang, who turned 27 on Sunday. “Also, I played too soon [after beating Kawabata], and I did not have enough time to relax before playing Reyes.”

In the semifinals, Reyes pulled off another thrilling win, rallying from three racks down to nip Taiwanese prodigy Wu, 12-10, in a race-to-11 match extended another frame because of the win-by-two-racks rule.

Like his wins over Kunihiko Takahashi, Indonesian Robby Suarly and Kuo Po-Cheng, it seemed all was lost for the Filipino top seed when, leading 6-4, he made two dry breaks and scratched on a 1-9 combo in the 14th rack, allowing the teenaged Wu to sweep six of the next seven frames to go up 10-7.

In the final rack, Bata pocketed two balls off the break, and raised his cue stick in triumph when the last 9-ball went in—to the delight of both the

Filipino and Indonesian fans that attended the midmorning match.
Despite the loss, Wu said he felt it was his best chance to beat Bata in four career meetings, but regretted his luck ran out of him in an otherwise
workmanlike performance.

“When Reyes made it 10-8, I knew deep down that he would win,” said the boy wonder, the losing finalist to Valle in Singapore.








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