LEGEND Efren 'Bata' Reyes is well-known for his toothless grin, but unknown to many, the lovable Filipino pool great used to wear dentures during the early years of his celebrated career.
So ever wondered what happened?
According to the Hall of Famer, it had something to do with a hilarious incident way back in 1995 during a long-haul flight to the US where he was set to compete.
“Noong 1995, may ngipin pa ako nung naglalaro ako sa Amerika,” Reyes recalled before a huge Independence Day crowd at the Newport Performing Arts Theater at the Resorts World Hotel for the 'Gabi ng Pagpupugay.'
“Nung pumunta kami ng Amerika, sumakay kami sa United Airlines, natutulog ako. Ginisig ako ng stewardess, sabi sa akin, 'Kain na po kayo.' Tinanong sa akin kung ano gusto ko, beef o chicken. Pinili ko ‘yung beef."
When he made his choice and said the word 'beef,' Reyes said his dentures came flying out of his mouth.
"Nung pinili ko ‘yung beef, sumama ‘yung ngipin ko ... Nagtawanan lahat.”
Reyes continued: “’Yung ngipin ko, dinala ko sa inidoro ng eroplano, sabi ko, ‘Diyan ka na, huwag na tayo magkita,” as the crowd broke into laughter.
'Bata’ was one of 19 Filipino sports legends honored during the special event that was the brain child of sports broadcaster Chino Trinidad.
In his acceptance speech, Reyes said he never imagined earning the distinction as one of the greatest Filipino athletes in the world since billiards used to have a reputation for being a 'larong kanto.'
“Noong araw po sabi ng mga tao, ‘yung bilyar eh parang pang kanto-kanto lang. Hindi naman televised ‘yan. Pero nag-simulang sumikat ‘yung bilyar noong World 9-Ball Championship nung 1999, nakilala kami lahat,” he said of the tournament he won 15 years ago that etched his name in the history of billiards.
“Maraming kabataan ngayon na kinuha na ‘yung galing ko,” said Reyes.
On behalf of the rest of the Filipino legends, Reyes thanked Trinidad for the honor bestowed on them.
“Nagpapasalamat kami sa kanya at napunta kami dito. Lahat kami, masayang-masaya,” said the pool legend, as usual flashing his well-known toothless grin.