Chao leads Reyes after Face Off Series Day One

Fong Pang Chao

Efren “Bata” Reyes struggled with his break and played catch-up all throughout to yield the upper hand to Fong Pang Chao halfway through their duel in Face Off Series 2: The Grandmasters Wednesday night at Club Capo Exclusive in Tomas Morato, Quezon City.

But with the score at 25-18, it remains too close to call the victory for the visiting Taiwanese, especially against the sport's all-time great, who has made so many Houdini acts all throughout his legendary career.

The second half of the race-to-50 nine-ball marathon, which was the first billiards match in the country to be aired on pay-per-view thru, was slated to be played last night with the winner set to receive $10,000.

“I couldn't get the right break and he is playing almost flawless that's why he is ahead,” said Reyes, who came into the match as the favorite to win this second edition of the series presented by Club Capo in cooperation with Bugsy Promotions and, and supported by Nuvo City, Outlast Battery, Puyat Sports and Negros Billiards Stable with the Philippine Star as the official media partner.

“But it's still a long way to go, and I'm still positive that I can find the right stroke and I would be able to overcome his lead,” added the 55-year-old pool icon.

After splitting the first 10 racks, Chao, with his impeccable pocketing, claimed the next three to go up 8-5. But Reyes came back and was able to tie the count at 11-all.

It was a seesaw battle in the next six racks with both players breaking dry, until Chao uncorked a 4-0 blast to take an 18-14 lead.

Reyes stopped the bleeding by pocketing the next two frames, but Chao countered with six straight racks for the biggest lead of the match at 24-16. The Filipino Magician scored two more points before allowing his opponent to close out the opening day of this one of the most intriguing match in the billiards world this year.

“I also made a couple of mistakes, but I was lucky, he can't make a good break,” said Chao, who like Reyes is a two-time world champion.

“I know Efren is capable of coming back, so I have to play better tomorrow,” he added.

The Reyes-Chao match is part of a series of challenge matches Club Capo is putting up.

The exclusive membership club is planning to pit eight to other pairs of world-class cue artists each year.

It has also lined up a match pitting former double world champions Ronnie Alcano and Ralf Souquet of Germany.

The second edition of The Philippines versus the World will be part of the Face-Off Series.

Club Capo Exclusive is also eyeing a match between Francisco “Django” Bustamante against American Rodney Morris and Lee Van Corteza opposite Shane Van Boening in November.

Other planned matches include a rematch between 2007 World Pool Championship finalists Roberto Gomez and Daryl Peach of England; Alcano versus fellow former world champion Chia-Ching Wu of Singapore; a scotch doubles match featuring the tandem of Efren “Bata” Reyes and Bustamante against the duo of Orcollo and Alcano, as well as the pair of Bustamante and Gomez versus Johnny Archer and Van Boening, and Alcano-Johann Chua opposite Yang-Pin-Yi Ko; and a duel between Reyes and Archer.