SINGAPORE – Not just one but two true ‘bata’ are part of the Philippine billiards and snooker team to the 28th Southeast Asian Games.
Chezka Centeno and Jefrey Roda are the youngest members of the national team in the biennial meet at age 15 - babies in a 12-man billiards snooker team led by the legendary Bata - Efren Reyes.
Centeno is competing in the women’s 9-ball singles, while Roda is set to see action in English billiards.
Centeno is making her debut in the meet, although she already competed in several world championship events in the past, the Amway Cup being the last international tournament the Zamboanga native played in.
“May natutunan din ako sa kanila,” said the soft-spoken Centeno in an interview during the send-off party tendered for Team Philippines a few weeks ago.
While Centeno is already making a name for herself, Roda is still considered a raw talent as the native of Surigao was discovered at the Palarong Pambansa.
Roda said he has grown to love the sport since he was first introduced to the game by his father.
“Gusto ng papa ko. Ako, ayaw ko. Pero ‘yung papa ko, gusto niya,” Roda admitted casually.
The teenager will be playing English billiards, a sport played in a snooker table but largely unknown to most Filipino billiard fans.
“Malaki pong adjustment ang gagawin ko dahil malaki ‘yung mesa,” said Roda.
In explaining how the game is played, Roda said: “May tatlong bola. Magpapahulog ka tapos magpapa-scratch ka tapos karambola. Ang kulay po ng bola ay puti, dilaw, at pula.”
The young player said he is happy to be part of the Philippine team that includes the 60-year-old Reyes, the two-time world champion, who is set to see action in the carom event.
“Dati po napapanood ko lang sila pero ngayon, makakasama ko na sila para i-represent ang bansa,” said Roda.
The billiards and snooker competition begins on Saturday at the OCBC Arena Hall 4.