Bata Reyes Leads RP Team in SMB Asian 9-Ball Tour Jakarta Leg

Efren Reyes

Fresh from copping the prestigious World 8-Ball Open Title in Reno, Nevada the other day, Hall of Famer Efren "Bata" Reyes will spearhead once gain the Team Philippines when the 2006 San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour winds in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 15-17, 2006.

The 52-years-old Reyes, playing under the auspices of RP billiards patron Aristeo "Putch" Puyat, receive his biggest ever pay check of his entire billiards career worth US$500,000 (roughly P25-million) by demolishing American Rodney "Rocket" Morris, 8-6, in the finals of the International Pool Tour.

Aside from Reyes, also the Vietnam leg winner, other Filipino pool wizards seeing in action in Asian 9-ball tour are Ramil "Bebeng" Gallego, and Rodolfo "Boy Samson" Luat, winner in the Bangkok, and Taiwan edition respectively.

Joining the triumvirate is former World no.1 Francisco "Django" Bustamante, eyeing his first-ever Asian 9-ball tour crown that leads a historical first Philippine sweep of the San Miguel Asian 9-ball tour.

Actually, before the IPT event, tha pair of Reyes and Bustamante defeated the tandem of Morris and three-time world champion Earl "The Pearl" Strickland, 13-5, to win the inagurial World Cup of Pool in South Wales, Britain.

Meanwhile, expected to challenge the Filipinos' domination of the series this year are Ricky Yang, and Muhammad Zulfikri of Indonesia along with reigning World Pool Champion Chia-ching Wu of Chinese-Taipei.

Besides the stellar duo of Yang and Zulfikri, the host country is represented by Apsi Chaniago and Roy Apanco. They will be joined by some of the top Asian pool players from 12 countries who are all likewise eying qualifying points for the World Pool Championships this November in Manila.

Started in 2003, the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour is Asia's only premier 9-ball tour which has drawn the best pool players Asia and produced such talents as defending tour champion Ching-Shun Yang and teen-billiard sensation, Wu, both from Chinese-Taipei.

The Tour is the only ranking tour in Asia for players to qualify to the World Pool Championship to be held in Manila on November 4-12, 2006. The top ten finishers in the San Miguel Asian 9-ball Tour Order of Merit will gain automatic entry to the World Pool Championship. The tour carries a total prize purse of $160,000. The champion of each leg wins a cash prize of US$10,000 while the runner-up gets US$5,000. Prior to the Jakarta leg, the tour had stops in Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok and Taiwan.

A new format has added excitement to this year's Asian 9-ball tour. The main draw of 24 players is grouped into eight, competing in a single round-robin format with the top eight players advancing to the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals onwards follow a single-game knockout format. Breaks alternate between players at the group stage and quarterfinals in race-to-9 competitions. The semifinals and the finals extend to race-to-11 contests. In the semis and finals, a player must win by two clear racks up to a maximum of race-to-13.

File photo courtesy of Diana Hoppe - Pool Pics by Hoppe