Efren Reyes in action during the Men’s Cushion Carom Semi Finals. Photo: Brandon Wong / SINGSOC
Philippines professional pool player Efren Manalang Reyes is no stranger to competition, having won over 70 international titles and being the first man in history to win World championships in two different disciplines. He is also often considered to be the greatest pool player of all time by many analysts, fans and pool players such as pool icon Billy Incardona.
The 60 year-old pool icon faced Vietnam competitor Minh Cam Ma in the Cushion Carom Semi Finals and lost 100-84 in a heated match up that repeated the events of the last SEA Games where he lost to the same opponent in the semi-finals as well. The Viet prospect Minh took the lead early on in the seventh inning, but he managed to find leverage and balance the playing field in the later innings. Missing an “easy shot” in the seventeenth inning allowed Minh to seal the win.
Despite his many accolades, the two-time world pool league champion has not had much luck in cushion carom in previous SEA games as well as Asian games, having only managed to muster Bronze medals for these events.
In an interview, he shared a little about his younger years growing up in Manila when he was 8 and playing in his uncle’s pool hall which was called the “Lucky Thirteen”. He stayed in the pool hall as well, using the table as his bed. He said: “When there was nobody in the hall, I could play. I used to play every day but there were many people playing so I could only play in the morning and the night for 30 minutes. ”
He also talked about what it is like to be at being the top of a sport, and have so much pressure and challengers wanting to beat him. “Many people like to challenge me everywhere in the world. They want to beat me so that they know they play good too. Nobody knows how they weigh up to another player until they challenge them. I like to show them my game as well.”
Being at such an old age he mentioned that when playing these days, his neck and back sometimes hurt. He mentioned that his eye sight is perfect, but his eyes have started straining lately as well.
When asked what he thought about the fact that billiards may be introduced as an Olympic sport, he said: “The Philippines have never obtained a Gold Medal from the Olympics, but maybe if this time, they put billiards, or anything like that, we may have a chance to win our first gold.”
This author of this article is a volunteer content producer with Team Nila. For more content produced by Team Nila, please head to the 28th SEA Games Social Wall.