Immonen Pained Over Losses By Reyes And Bustamante

Mika Immonen's elation following newspaper reports that Efren “Bata” Reyes had won the gold medal in 9-ball competition at the on-going Southeast Asian Games in Viet Nam soon turned to anguish when he was informed by Viva Sports that the story was erroneous and Reyes had actually been beaten in the semi finals while Bustamante had been ousted earlier in the quarter finals.

Immonen who was enjoying the sun and the sea at picturesque Boracay, one of the most fascinating beach resorts in the world said he was hoping that Reyes would win and thereby help erase the memory of his 13-12 nerve-wracking loss to the 2001 World Pool Champion in the recent Café Puro sponsored Philippine National Open and Invitational 9-ball Championships.

Immonen who has won three of the last four tournaments in Manila knew that Reyes was “disappointed and distressed” over his inexplicable defeat when he was leading 9-4 in the finals where the alternate break format was used and that millions of Filipinos were heartbroken. Immonen, who has made Manila his second home and owns a cozy bar in the financial district of Makati City said he was hoping Reyes would win because that would have been a great honor both for himself and the Philippines. But it was not to be as both Reyes and Bustamante floundered in a competition they were expected to dominate.

Clearly upset over Reyes' defeat Immonen said “My God, this is a disaster.” Immonen said he felt bad especially for Reyes whom he described as a great player and an even nicer person. Reyes and Bustamante were expected to meet in the finals based on their records on the international pro circuit but the pool world was shocked when Bustamante lost to Viet Nam's Nguyen Thanh Nam 11-7 in the quarter finals.

Reyes, who was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame earlier this year routed Thailand's Chatchanan Rutphae 11-2 in the quarter finals but was stunned by unknown Indonesian Muhamad Junarto 11-9 in the semis. Reyes recovered a little of his prestige with a 11-3 win over Nguyen Thanh Nam in the battle for the bronze medal while Junarto and another unknown Indonesian Nurdin faced each other in the finals.

The only consolation for the Philippines was the performance of young star Lee Van Corteza who won gold medals in both the 8-ball singles and doubles, partnering Warren Kiamco in the doubles.