Reyes Stays Undefeated

Efren Reyes

Efren "Bata" Reyes who saved the Philippines from an embarrassing shutout on the opening day of the Europe-Philippines 9-Ball showdown with a masterful 7-2 conquest of Sweden's Marcus Chamat one of the members of Europe's Mosconi Cup champion team continued his winning ways on day two with a rousing 7-3 victory over Neils Feijen at the ABS-CBN studios in Quezon City, Thursday.

Reyes' bosom buddy Francisco "Django" Bustamante, last year's runner-up to Earl Strickland at the World Pool Championships in Cardiff; who was ill on the first day recovered sufficiently to hand Chamat his second setback, posting a comfortable 7-4 win.

Chamat was unlucky to scratch on a shot on the 9-ball to give Bustamante a 4-2 lead which was enough of a cushion in the alternate break format.

Reyes' victory on the first day helped salvage some pride for the hometown fans after three of his teammates; Bustamante, Warren Kiamco and Antonio "Nikoy" Lining were beaten by European stars Neils Feijen, Ralf Souquet and Mika Immonen.

Bustamante who played the final match of the evening despite being ill lost a 7-6 heartbreaker to the handsome Dutchman Feijen who is also a popular deejay in the Netherlands and wowed the crowd at Immonen's Makati City bar "Flava" last Saturday and after his victory over the fancied Bustamante. After jumping off to a 5-2 lead Bustamante missed several makeable shots and even when he was up 6-5 failed to put it away enabling Feijen to scrape through 7-6 to cap a good opening day for the Europeans.

Kiamco had a golden opportunity to go ahead 3-1 against Souquet, the winner of the Billiards Congress of America 9-ball Open and European 8-ball champion but he missed a long shot on the 9-ball enabling Souquet to level at 2-2. His spirits broken, Kiamco was no match for the German ace who showed his class when he pocketed three balls on the break, played an exquisite cut on the two-ball and ran out the final rack for a stylish 7-4 victory.

2001 World Pool Champion Mika Immonen who has made Manila his second home proved too good for Antonio Lining who came through the qualifying rounds to enter the last sixteen in Cardiff last year. Immonen, one of the favorites in Cardiff was at his best, capitalizing on his break in the alternate break format and pocketing the balls with precision.

Reyes missed an easy shot on the 8-ball after winning the lag, apparently distracted by a fly on the table allowing Chamat to take the opening rack. Chamat who, like Immonen, has made Manila a second home held his own against Reyes in the early going but with the score tied at 2-2 Reyes showed his magical touch, playing some incredible safety shots and pouncing on the slightest mistake by the 2000 European 9-ball champion nicknamed "Napolean," to run off five racks in a row and seal a handsome 7-2 win.

After the Philippines' top two players Reyes and Bustamante won their matches on day two of the "On Cue" tournament to bring the Filipinos right back into contention in the battle for team honors, Lining and Kiamco failed to keep the momentum and succumbed to Souquet and Immonen.

After Souquet missed a long shot on the 9-ball in the early going Lining raced to a 6-3 lead but then faltered badly. He committed a foul and then scratched in two successive racks enabling Souquet to claw back to win 7-6 despite uncharacteristically missing several easy shots.

Immonen on the other hand was at his best, making only one mistake early in his match enabling Kiamco to even the score at 1-1 but after that it was the popular Finn who was in almost complete control playing some great shots and moving around the table with confidence to score an easy 7-3 victory to keep the Europeans ahead 5-3.

Photo courtesy of Matchroom Sport