‘Bata’ Eyes Villar Cup Title

Efren Reyes

Efren "Bata" Reyes hopes to break out from a long slumber and add another feather to his legendary cap as the world's greatest cue artist of all time competes in the First Senate President Manny Villar Cup Bacolod Leg on November 13 to 16 at the Garden Royal Function Hall of Goldenfields Commercial Complex in Bacolod City.

The 54-year-old pool legend has not won a title since ruling the Derby City Classic in Louisville, Kentucky in January 2007, though the charismatic maestro continues to be a major force to reckon with in every tournament he joins.

Reyes' closest shot at winning a title this year was in the inaugural staging of the Villar Cup in May in Alabang, when he made it to the finals before losing to Warren Kiamco. He never made past the quarterfinals in succeeding legs of this island-hopping series presented by Villards: Tulong sa Pagsulong ng Philippine Sports and Camella Communities.

But in his bid to end his title drought, Reyes will have his hand even more full as he will not just take on an already formidable challenge from his fellow world-class countrymen and a bunch of rising Filipino stars, but also against a horde of topnotch foreign talents as this fifth edition of the Villar Cup was made an international event.

Eight foreigners, led by newly-crowned Guinness 9-Ball Tour Grand champion Ching-Shun Yang of Chinese-Taipei, will competed for the prestigious title and the $15,000 top purse at stake in this four-day tournament also dubbed as the "Bacolod International VILLARDS Festival", organized by the Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines (BMPAP) in cooperation with the city government of Bacolod led by Mayor Evelio Leonardia and the Negros Billiards Stable (NBS) of businessman Jonathan Sy.

Besides Yang, other international players vying in this event, supported by the Bacolod Global Entertainment Marketing Services Corporation, Bugsy Promotions and Puyat Sports, are former world champion Chia-Ching Wu, Hung-hsiang Wang and Jung-Lin Chang of Chinese-Taipei, China topranked player Jianbo Fu, veteran internationalist Marcus Chamat of Sweden and Christian Johannessen of the Netherlands.

Joining Reyes in leading the local surge are fellow former world titlists Alex Pagulayan and Ronnie Alcano, along with reigning world no.1 Dennis Orcollo, Francisco "Django" Bustamante, Lee Van Corteza, and previous Villar Cup leg winners Kiamco (Alabang), Gandy Valle (Cebu), Ramil Gallego (Bulacan) and Roberto Gomez (Davao).

Also in the 32-man field are Carlo Biado and Ricky Zerna. The rest of the slot will be filled through wildcard entries and a series of qualifying tournaments slated from November 8 to 11 at the Celebrity Billiards and Bar in Bacolod City.

Besides the international invitational division, there will also be the Executive Class and Amateur divisions for both men and women, where almost half-a-million pesos cash prize is at stake.

Moreover, the event will also have a series of side activities like street parties, concerts and exhibits.