Bata Reyes Back on Top

MANILA,PHILIPPINES---FILIPINO billiards great Efren "Bata" Reyes, hands-down one of the best pool players in the planet has literally clearer vision in looking at the coming pro billiard season.

The 51-year-old Angeles City pride Reyes, his eyesight restored to better than normal proportions, is enjoying the second wind of his fabled career and is aiming to dominate the pool scene yet again.

The Filipino pool idol blanked American Mike Sigel, 2-0, in the finals of the 2005 International Pool Tour (ITP) 8-ball shoot-out last December at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida USA.

His victory earned Reyes a hefty sum of $200,000, enough to top the 2005 Player Money List which accumulating $ 279,169.00.

It was a victory that signaled Reyes' return to the top after months of mediocrity caused by chronic cueing elbow pain and deteriorating eyesight mainly because of age.

It shall be recalled that Reyes struggled with poor eyesight early last year, losing the overall title in the Asian 9-Ball Tour to Yang Ching Shun of Taiwan and failing to advance in the knockout round of the WPC.

His dry eye symptoms and far-sighted error of refraction and astigmatism were corrected by a short and painless procedure at the American Eye Center, Shangrila Plaza Mall in Mandaluyong City.

The Lasik Refractive Surgery, performed by Doctors Jack Arroyo and Arnold Salud, lasted only 20 minutes and gave the billiards ace "20/15" vision, a line better than the normal "20/20."

Reyes begged off from playing for the Philippines in the Southeast Asian Games last month because he was contemplating on going to the US to have his eyes treated.

With improved vision, "The Magician" sees nothing less than a dominating season again.

Last January 6 to 14, 2006, Reyes blanked American Jason Miller, 3-0, to retain his title in the One-Pocket Division of the Derby City Classic at the Executive West Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. He first ruled the event in 1999, the same year he topped the World Pool Championship.

It was his second major triumph since a laser treatment performed by doctors Jack Arroyo of American Eye Center and Arnold Salud corrected his vision.

The past winners in One-Pocket were Americans Nick Varner (2000), Buddy Hall (2001) and Cliff Joyner (2002) and US-based Filipino Jose "Amang" Parica (2003).

RP billiards patron and long-time benefactor Aristeo "Putch" Puyat is happy with the results of the successful Lasik refractive surgery of Reyes.

"This goes to show that Efren is not over the hill yet." said Puyat. "Efren can still play in top level in the next three to five years."

Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) president Ernesto Fajardo echoes Puyat's remark.

"I dont think that anybody as of today works the pool table better than Efren". Fajardo said. "Efren can manufacture shots that nobody would have thought possible."