AGE seems to be finally catching up with them, but Efren “Bata” Reyes and Francisco “Django” Bustamante remains the sentimental favorites in the PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool starting on Tuesday at the Robinsons Place in Manila.
The two former world pool champions are seeded eighth in the tournament they have won twice in the past, although they have proven they are still forces to reckon with in the twilight of their careers — Reyes winning an international tournament this year and Bustamante having won the world title just two years ago.
Dennis Orcollo and Lee Vann Corteza are the top-ranked Filipinos at No. 2, but focus will definitely be on the Reyes-Bustamante tandem, winners of the Cup in 2006 and 2009.
Reyes and Bustamante open their bid for a third crown against Hong Kong at 6 p.m. in a race-to-eight scotch doubles 9-ball knockout format tournament featuring teams from 31 countries.
Ralf Souquet of Germany is back with Thorstenn Hohmann to defend the title, and the former believes that Reyes and Bustamante can't be counted out.
“Their knowledge of the game is so huge especially Efren,” said Souquet in Monday’s press conference at the Robinsons Midtown Mall. “He’s called ‘The Magician’ for good reason. He makes shots that nobody has ever seen that is why he is the greatest.”
“Django, meanwhile, is a great shotmaker. He is a little bit younger than Efren but he has a little more power,” added Souquet.
The 58-year-old Reyes admitted that age is catching up with him, adding he and friend Bustamante need a stroke of luck to win this week.
“Noong nag-champion kami, may tira pa kami ni Django pero ’yung nakaraan, natatalo na kami kaya mahihirapan kami,” Reyes said.
“Swertehan din ang 9-ball, baka gumanda tira namin, may panalo kami,” said Reyes.
Corteza, a former national champion and an ex-world 10-ball runner-up, agrees that the field is tough.
“Sa amin ng partner ko, gagawin lang namin ang makakaya namin. Masyado mahigpit ang laban,” said Corteza.