EFREN ‘Bata’ Reyes sees a difficult path to the gold medal in the one-cushion carom event of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games billiards competition.
Reyes, 65, easily dispatched Thongchai Punyawee of Thailand, 100-37, in their quarterfinal to assure himself of a medal in this Games.
But standing in the way of the pool legend in the semifinals is 38-year-old Ngo Dinh Nai of Vietnam, a world champion in the carom circuit.
If he shows up playing like he did on Wednesday, Reyes said he will be in big trouble.
“’Yung susunod kong kalaban, world champion. Ako naman ang mahihirapan. Kung ang titirahin ko ganyan sa susunod, walang kabuhay-buhay. Kailangan, mas maganda pa doon,” said the 65-year-old former world 9-ball champion.
“Hindi na ako kakabahan pero ang makakalaban ko, kung dati ako pinakamagaling, etong kalaban ko ang pinakamagaling, ako ang bago,” said Reyes.
Reyes said hurdling Ngo won't guarantee a gold medal as another Vietnamese in Canh Phuc Pham is expected to reach the finals on the other side of the bracket.
“Pipilitin kong talunin pero magaling ‘yun. Baka mamaya sumama din tira ko. Baka gumanda tira ko, bumalik tira ko, baka talunin ko,” said Reyes.
Reyes said there are very few players who play carom, which is played in a table without pockets. The object of the game is for the cue ball to hit two balls in one shot.
In this SEA Games alone, the average age of carom players is 52. Reyes isn’t even the oldest player in the event. That distinction belongs to 70-year-old Tan An of Indonesia.
“Maraming magagaling sa pool pero ‘yung carom, walang mga batang gumagaling," ssid the Hall of Famer.
"Nakita mo ‘yung kalaban ko sa karambola, matanda na rin. Walang mga bata. Ang mga batang naglalaro ngayon, [gusto] ‘yung pool, ‘yung may pocket,” said Reyes.