Reyes Beats Pagulayan In Epic Final

Efren Reyes

Efren "Bata" Reyes, displaying some of the magic that earned him the distinction of being regarded the greatest pool player of all-time won a heart-stopping 13-12 epic over 2004 World Pool Champion Alex "The Lion" Pagulayan in the finals of "On Cue 3: Continental Conquest" which featured sixteen top players from Europe, North America and Asia at the Trade Hall of Robinson's Galleria, a huge shopping mall in the Ortigas business district.

Reyes who had earlier given 15 year old Taiwanese schoolboy sensation Wu Chia Ching a clinical lesson before putting him away 11-6 in the semi finals pocketed the top prize of $20,000 while Pagulayan settled for $10,000.

Even though Pagulayan had earlier announced he would represent the Philippines beginning next year after re-assuming Filipino citizenship under the Dual Citizenship law, the crowd was clearly rooting for Reyes all the way since the national sports hero hadn't won a tournament before his hometown fans for the past two years.

Pagulayan himself earlier roared into the finals with a smashing 11-2 rout of Francisco "Django" Bustamante whose game fell apart completely after a run of impressive victories en route to the semi finals. The Reyes-Pagulayan showdown was a rematch of their clash in the winners bracket of the double elimination which "The Magician" won 9-7 after Pagulayan went for some risky shots and missed out.

Although Reyes won the lag in the race to 13 alternate break final, he lost the advantage to Pagulayan who drew first blood before Reyes squeezed out of a tight situation to even the count at 1-1. Scrambling shots and scrappy play were interspersed with some incredible shot-making until the score stood at 5-5 before Reyes scratched and Pagulayan capitalized on the error to move ahead 6-5 on a classic 1-9 combination.

The little Filipino then showed both power and control and after making a great bank shot on the 5-ball sliced in the 9 to ease two racks in front 7-5.

A brilliant 1-6 one rail, kick combination and a sorry miss by Pagulayan on the 7-ball in the next rack enabled Reyes to once again draw level at 7-7 before Pagulayan, playing some unbelievable pool, went up once again 9-7. However an unforced error followed by a classic cross-side bank shot by Reyes enabled "The Magician" to grab the lead 10-9. A run-out by Pagulayan made it10-10 before Reyes did the same thing on his break to go ahead again 11-10.

Pagulayan and Reyes then exchanged some truly exquisite shots to battle to a 12-12 count in a match that had elevated itself to a display of near flawless pool that had the fans, including the ousted players like Mika Immonen and Rodney Morris, looking on in awe.

With both men on the hill Reyes demonstrated his wizardry by sinking the 6-ball with a left-handed shot and then clutched his chest for a few seconds before sinking the 9-ball to break out of a disappointing run before hometown fans who exulted in his victory.

Pagulayan in a post-game interview said "the dream of every player is to beat Efren in the Philippines because he is the greatest player of all-time" which was a comment made earlier during his semi final match by European ace and former world champion Ralf Souquet who was handling the television commentary over Studio 23 which staged the top-class international tournament in cooperation with Puyat Sports headed by respected pool patron Aristeo "Putch" Puyat.