Bata vs Alcano in Philippine Challenge Match

Senator Manny B. Villar raises the hands of Efren “Bata” Reyes and Ronnie Alcano

Efren “Bata” Reyes puts his legendary status on the line once again, this time against a player who many considers as his heir apparent – fellow former double world champion Ronnie Alcano – as they battle in the VILLARDS Challenge of the Legend: The Maestro versus The Volcano that starts today at the Skydome of SM North Edsa in Quezon City.

This battle royale will be in a 15-ball rotation, a game most Filipinos used to play and where the two are considered the best in the world.

The event is presented by Senator Manny Villar's Villards: Tulong sa Pagsulong ng Philippine Sports in cooperation with the Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines, sponsored by Camella Communities and, and supported by ABS-CBN, the Philippine Star and the Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines.

“It's going to be a very exciting match,” said Reyes, who, at 55, continues to defy father time to remain one of the best cue artists in the world.

“I know that Ronnie has been very vocal on his desire to beat every time we meet. He said he is always at his best every time he plays me. So I'm taking it as a challenge and I will be at my best come game time,” added the man also know as the Magician, who the world 9-ball championship in 1999 and the world 8-ball championship in 2004.

Reyes considers himself a slight underdog, citing the fact that the last time he and Alcano met in a tournament atmosphere, which was in the Last 16 of the 2006 World Pool Championship, he lost. Alcano went on to win the event and Reyes never had a chance to get even.

“Although this one will be played in a different field, in rotation, I will still use that loss as a motivation against him.”

Add the fact the Reyes has not won a big event in quite a while. His last major triumph was in the 2007 Derby City Classic.

Alcano has likewise been in the doldrums for the past couple of years or since ruling the 2007 World 8-Ball Championship and becoming just the third man in billiards history to hold both the world 8-ball and world 9-ball titles.

“I want to end my losing streak and I think there's no better way to do it against the best player in the world and my idol,” said Alcano.

“I very hungry now, that's why when I was told that I'll be going up against Champ (Reyes), I immediately went on a rigid training,” added the 36-year-old pride of Calamba, Laguna.

“For me, it's always an honor to play against Efren, much more win against him. He is what every billiards players look up to and he's my idol eversince I learned to play the game.”

Alcano idolizes Reyes so much that he emulates every bit of the latter's move – even going as far as removing all his teeth just to look like the Magician.

The event will have two undercards, the first of which is the Scotch Doubles All-Star Challenge, a four-way tournament featuring the country's top billiards stables.

Puyat Sports, Bugsy Promotions and Negros Billiards Stable (NBS), the three premier pool stables that manage practically all of the top Filipino cue artists will field their best duos to prove for themselves which really has the best crop of players in the country. Puyat Sports have enlisted 2004 world 9-ball champion Alex Pagulayan and veteran internationalist Rodolfo Luat to banner its team in the tournament.

Former world no.1 Dennis Orcollo and Asian Games gold medalist Gandy Valle will take the cudgels for the Bugsy boys, while NBS will have former Southeast Asian Games multi-gold medalists Warren Kiamco and Lee Van Corteza.

To even out the field, a wildcard team called the BMPAP Selection, composed of Ramil Gallego and Antonio Lining will also join the fray.

The event will be shown live on ABS-CBN's Studio 23 from 2 to 6 p.m. It will also have a live streaming in the internet via

According to Mariano, who conceptualized the event, this will be the start of a series of tournaments and challenge matches his group will hold in its effort to further develop the sport in the country and at the same time provide the Filipino an alternative form of entertainment.

“This is more than just a competition, but also an entertainment,” said Mariano adding that he had tapped the services of some well-known personalities in the entertainment industry to do the production of the show.

“This will be very much different from the glorified barangay tournaments being stage by some groups. This is what sports entertainment looks like.”

Senator Villar, the foremost Philippine billiards godfather, will be the guest of honor and will hit the ceremonial break of the event. The national anthem will be sung by Ava of the Pretty Young Thing (PYT).

The other undercard is a tournament for the up-and-coming pool stars billed as the Sipag at Tiyaga-Search for the New Billards Idol Special Edition.