Reyes Honored in Kaohsiung

Efren Reyes

Efren "Bata" Reyes, acknowledged as the greatest pool player of all-time and last year's leading money winner on the international circuit with a total of some $125,000 in prize money who is again showing the way this year with winnings of around $60,000 has been honored by the City of Kaohsiung where the third leg of the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour opened Friday.

Reyes who holds the singular honor of being voted the most popular player among a majority of competitors on the international circuit received a special souvenir from the Mayor of Kaohsiung Hon. Chen Chi Mai during a pre-tournament press conference in the bustling southern Taiwan city know for its huge port and exciting nightlife.

The 1999 World Pool Champion who won the second leg of the San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour in Jakarta after winning three of last year's five legs is known not merely for the magical qualities of his game which earned him the title of "The Magician" but also his soft-spoken, down-to-earth demeanor off the table.

Whenever Reyes plays in major tournaments in Europe, Asia, the Middle East or even the US, he is mobbed by Filipinos who take pride in his achievements. The latest honor bestowed on Reyes comes at a time when a leading sports official has reportedly been downplaying Reyes' achievements to the consternation of supporters of pool and admirers of Reyes.

Reyes was scheduled to play his opening match in Kaohsiung against 24 year old Taiwanese Hsiang Wang Hung who finished fifth in the 1999 World Junior Pool Championships. This year's World Pool Championships will also be staged in Kaohsiung in July. Filipino Alex "The Lion" Pagulayan who plays out of Canada will defend his crown against a fierce challenge certain to be mounted by a roster of superb Taiwanese hotshots led by pool icon Fong Pang Chao, winner of the event in 2000 and the sensational "Son of Pool" Chin-Shung Yang.