EFREN ‘Bata’ Reyes has mezmerized billiards fans all over the world with his one-of-a-kind skills that earned him the well-deserved moniker 'The Magician.'
But the man regarded as one of the best pool players of all time said he is human, too, and found some opponents tougher to beat more than the others.
In a chance interview with SPIN.ph, the former nine-ball world champion and three-time US Open champion listed three players who he said gave him the toughest time during his Hall of Fame career.
The three have things in common: they are all Americans (since Reyes spent the best years of his career campaigning in the US circuit) and all three have good breaks (which is considered the weakest point of Reyes' game).
“Magagaling sila bumreak. Ngayon marami na magaling bumreak. Ang talo ko sa kanila, puro break. Kahit hindi kagalingan, basta magaling sa break," said the pool legend, now 62.
Here's his list:
His name may not ring a bell among casual sports fan, but Sigel made a name for himself as ‘Captain Hook’ in the pool circuit. According to his official website, Sigel has won six US Open 9-Ball Championships and at 35 became the youngest player to be inducted into the Billiards Congress of America Hall of Fame.
Reyes said he found Sigel a tough nut to crack because of his ability to break, which is quite an advantage in the 9-ball and 10-ball game (remember, Reyes was used to playing 15-ball early in his career in the Philippines and didn't master the 9-ball until he started campaigning in the US).
“Mahirap manalo sa break kasi madali ang 9-ball at 10-ball,” Reyes said.
Nicknamed ‘The Scorpion,’ Archer was named Player of the Decade of the 1990s by Billiards Digest and was a two-time world 9-ball champion.
Reyes said Archer’s calculated game, coupled with a good break, make him a difficult player to beat.
“Magaling din sa break at maingat,” said Reyes.
Of course, who could forget the matches Reyes and Strickland fought at the peak of their careers. None was more memorable than their Color of Money showdown, a three-day, race-to-120 9-ball competition in Hong Kong which Reyes won, 120-117.
It was also against ‘The Pearl’ where Reyes shot this incredible three-cushion shot.
Reyes said he admired Strickland's pocketing skills.
“Magaling maglaro ng 9-ball dahil shooter siya,” said Reyes, adding he was hardly bothered by the antics of the temperamental American great.
“Ganun talaga. Ang yabang, hindi mawawala ‘yan. Kahit sino naman, meron nyan,” said Reyes.