Reyes Escapes with First Round win at Villar Cup

Efren Reyes (File Photo courtesy of Diana Hoppe - Pool Pics by Hoppe)

BAGUIO CITY – Efren “Bata” Reyes survived an error-filled start to beat Canadian Gerry Watson and show the way for the opening round winners in The Manny Villar Cup Panagbenga leg yesterday before a jampacked crowd at the Events Center of SM City Baguio here.

The 54-year-old pool icon committed a couple of unforced errors in each of the first four racks that allowed his wildcard opponent to take a 3-1 lead in this prestigious island-hopping series presented by Senator Manny Villar's Villards: Tulong sa Pagsulong ng Philippine Sports and sponsored by Camella Communites.

But not wanting to disappoint the partisan crowd obviously rooting for him, Reyes dug deep into his pocket of tricks and record another Houdini act for the man known as the “Magician.”

Reyes ran out the fifth rack and that ignited a 5-0 run, highlighted by his patented “magical shots”, to give him a 6-3 lead.

Watson, a three-time Canadian national champion, snapped Reyes' streak by claiming the 10th frame. But that proved to be his last stand as the Filipino hero pocketed the next three racks to clinch the victory and moved closer to the coveted title and the P300,000 top purse at stake in this three-day event.

Last year's Cebu leg winner Gandy Valle also advanced into the second round after defeating qualifier Emil Martinez, 9-5.

The former Asian Games gold medalist raced to a 4-0 lead but Martinez managed to tie the count at 4-all, forcing him to utilize his experience to the hilt to score the win.

Other early first round results saw former two-time World Juniors campaigner Rene Mar David thumping Russian Petiza, 9-3 and Egie Geronimo upending Joven Bustamante, 9-5.

A simple opening ceremony, graced by Senator Villar along with Baguio City Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. and Benguet governor Nestor Fongwan, ushered the start of the competition. There Villar reiterated his all out support to the sport “where we, Filipinos, are on top of the world.”

The Villar Cup Panagbenga leg is part of the city's month-long flower festival, where over a million visitors are expected to witness.