Bata flirts with disaster, rallies past young foe

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pool legend Efren "Bata" Reyes turned back youthful Jomar de Ocampo as he pulled off a scary 9-7 win to remain in the hunt in the first Senate President Manny Villar Cup Bulacan leg at the Event Center of SM City in Marilao, Bulacan Saturday. Reyes, 54, bounced back from a 0-3 deficit with a variety of remarkable shots to the delight of the big crowd as he completed the come-from-behind victory to stay in contention in the chase for the top P300,000 purse staked in the series presented by Villards: Tulong sa Pagsulong ng Philippine Sports and sponsored by Camella Communities.

"It‘s really difficult to win these days because there are now so many good young players," said Reyes in Filipino. "But this is good for the sport and Jomar is one of our top young players. If he continues to shine, he’ll go far. De Ocampo racked up the first three racks. But the 20-year-old rising star from Alaminos, Pangasinan made several misses in the succeeding frames, enabling Reyes to come back behind a 6-1 run, anchored on a number of spectacular shots as he grabbed the lead at 6-4.

He then protected his turn at the table in the alternate break format to secure the win that moved him into the Last 16 of this three-day event organized by the Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines (BMPAP) and supported by Puyat Sports, Bugsy Promotions, Negros Billiards Stable and ER Cues. He was set to face next another promising player in Ricky Zerna, who subdued Richard Pornelosa in their opening round encounter.

Fellow former two-time world champion Ronnie Alcano was not as lucky as he bowed to hometown bet Egie "Marilao" Geronimo, 9-7, to become the biggest casualty in the tournament. Egged on by his townmates, Geronimo, who defeated Reyes, 9-1, in the Villar Cup Cebu leg last June, quickly surged to a commanding 7-2 lead, and then quashed Alcano’s late-game push to score one of the biggest win in his career.

Defending champion Gandy also survived an upset attempt by defending Search for the New Billiards Idol champion Joey Pardales, escaping with a 9-7 win. He will next face Rodolfo Luat, who demolished Godofredo Ducanes, 9-3. Former world no.1 Francisco "Django" Bustamante and reigning national champion Lee Van Corteza won against top female bet Rubilen Amit (9-3) and William Chua (9-3), respectively, to arrange a round-of-16 collision against each other.

Other first round matches saw Jundel Mazon downing Benjie Guevarra, 9-3; Ramil Gallego manhandling Johann Chua. 9-1; 2007 World Pool runner-up Roberto Gomez blasting Mike Takayama, 9-5; William Millares upending Kuwait’s Abdulah Al Yousef, 9-6; Carlo Biado trouncing Michael Feliciano, 9-5; Russian Petiza defeating Mark Mendoza, 9-4; Elmer Haya humiliating Panfilo Damuag, 9-1; Jharome Pena edging out Dondon Razalan, 9-8; and Villar Cup Alabang leg winner Warren Kiamco beating Romar Villones 9-3.