MORE than their world-class talent, Rubilen Amit said it is the humility as well as competitiveness of Philippine billiards legend Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes and Francisco ‘Django’ Bustamante that make them a cut above the rest.
During a recent episode of the SPIN Sidelines, Amit was asked about the impact of Reyes and Bustamante in her playing career that has a resume of two championships in the world stage.
“I would say na kung si coach Django, sa ugali, the best player na mako-consider, si Tatay Efren naman, he would be the genius,” Amit told SPIN.ph recently.
Amit captured two world titles of her own when she ruled the 10-ball event in 2009 and 2013, and a part of her success is her relationships built with the two Filipino champions in the men’s side.
Nowadays, Bustamante has become the coach of the national team, but still plays international competitions from time to time. Since then, Amit said Bustamante is one of the most humble persons she has met.
“Si coach, very close to my heart. Ang dami kong gustong sabihin na magandang salita kay coach Django.
Despite sa mga na-achieve na niya, napaka-maalaga niya sa mga players and very generous siya sa mga alam niya. Kapag nandiyan siya, he takes the time para magturo. Hindi niya pinararamdam sayo na world champion siya. Hindi siya iba. Very approachable si coach Django. Ugali wise, one of the best players,” said Amit.
Amit said Bustamante’s relationship and how he treats his fellow players most especially his kumpare Reyes is the best trait she wants to emulate.
“Hindi more on sa mga sinasabi niya, more on sa pakikitungo niya lalo na kapag si Tatay Efren. Sobrang bait kasi niya lalo na kapag kasama si Tatay Efren. Kapag lalabas kami sa isang tournament, lagi siyang kapag kunwari kakain kami, sasabihin niya, nasaan na ‘yung pare ko. Very thoughtful siya kay Tatay Efren. Gusto ko ring ganun with my younger teammates,” said Amit.
As for Reyes, Amit said "The Magician" is one of the reasons why she took up the sport at aged 12.
“Tatay Efren, of course, idol ‘yan. Bata pa lang ako, nasa Cebu pa lang ako, idol ko na siya. 12 pa lang ako, kilala na talaga si Tatay Efren. Nung nasa Cebu pa kami, kami ni Papa lumilipad kami sa Manila para manood ng tournaments diyan sa Ninoy Aquino (Stadium). Nung naging part ako ng national team, na-star struck talaga ako na parang totoo ba ‘to,” said Amit.
Amit became a teammate of Reyes when the two competed in a mixed doubles event which they won twice. Amit remembers the shock when she received the e-mail that she will be a partner of Reyes in the doubles tournament.
“Ang tagal kong tiningnan ‘yung email. Hindi ako makapaniwala. Idol ko siya since I was 12 years old. Siguro mga 30 minutes ko tiningnan kasi makaka-partner ko ‘yung idol ko,” Amit said.
After the joy though, Amit’s emotions turned into nerves during the actual tournament when the reality of playing with a world champion set in. But an advice by Reyes made her calm.
“Nung game day mismo, hiyang hiya ako. Hindi ako makalaro. Hindi ako makapag-focus. Hindi ako makapag-isip ng maayos. Nagkakamali ako. Para akong beginner. Sobrang tentative ng mga galaw ko kasi nahihiya ako maglaro.”
“Siguro, we found that chemistry nung sinabi niya, ilaro mo ‘yung laro mo. Alam mo rin naman ‘yung ginagawa mo, itira mo lang ng itira. Wag mo na akong tanungin. Bawat tira kasi tinatanong ko,” said Amit in recalling Reyes’ words to her.
“Nung naging strategy namin, wag kaming mag-usap, doon na nag-click, hook up na lang kami kapag tricky,” she said.
Even though Reyes is now 65 years old, Amit still believes that Reyes is still the most knowledgeable billiards player in the world who even in his greying stature looks for ways to improve himself even though he no longer has the touch he once had.
Amit saw the competitive fire in Reyes even during the recent Southeast Asian Games where despite being fielded in the event of carom was determined to win a gold despite the obstacles.
“Grabe ‘yung competitive nature ni Tatay. Gusto niya talaga manalo. At the same time, sa age niya at sa experience niya, makikita mo na mahal pa rin niya ang billiards. Siya ‘yung isa sa mga masisipag lalo na nung SEA Games, lagi siyang nag-eensayo. Devoted pa rin siya sa paglalaro ng billiards,” said Amit.
As for Reyes’ knowledge of the game, Amit said: “Genius talaga. Ang alam niya sa billiards, para sa akin, wala pang nakakaabot.”
“Even with the guys, kapag may hindi sila alam na diskarte, sila Carlo (Biado), Kuya Dennis (Orcollo), sila mga number one na sila just recently pero kay Tatay Efren pa rin ang takbuhan kapag may hindi sila alam na diskarte. Tatanungin nila, ‘Champ, paano ‘to Champ, anong gagawin mo dito.’ Iba ‘yung respeto namin kay Tatay Efren,” said Amit.
Watch the recent episode of the SPIN Sidelines with Rubilen Amit