EFREN “Bata” Reyes pulled off a series of magical acts, including a come-from-behind 11-10 squeaker over fellow world titlist Francisco “Django” Bustamante in the finals to crown himself champion of Villards – The Manny Villar Cup (Playing for a cause) Sunday at StarMall Alabang in Muntinlupa City.
The 57-year-old pool legend engaged his bosom buddy in a thrilling seesaw battle but found himself trailing, 10-9, before taking the next two racks to score the victory in this two-day tournament organized by Senator Manny Villar for the benefit of more than a dozen children with cancer.
The win earned Reyes his second Villards title along with P300,000 cash, part of which went to his partners-beneficiaries Jhon Kristopher Dequito, a two-year-old cancer patient from Binangonan, Rizal and 10-year-old Teresita Maribao of Potrero, Malabon, who is suffering from leukemia.
Bustamante, who swept his way to the final by winning four straight matches, settled for the runner-up purse worth P120,000, while the rest of the topnotch cue artists who competed in this event got at least P20,000, part of which went to their respective cancer-stricken beneficiaries who came from different parts of the country through the Villar Foundation.
Reyes opened his campaign with a 9-8 win over Antonio Lining, but was sent to the losers’ bracket following a 9-4 loss to Jundel Mazon in his second match.
He then defeated Rubilen Amit (9-2) and Warren Kiamco (9-5) to secure a seat in the semifinals, where he edged out another former world champion in Dennis Orcollo, 11-10, catapulting him to the finals of this tournament backed by StarMall, the Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines, Puyat Sports, Bugsy Promotions, Negros Billards Stable and sanctioned by the Games and Amusements Board.
Bustamante, on the other hand, successively defeated Renemar David (9-6), Roberto Gomez (9-3), Kiamco (9-6) and Carlo Biado (11-9) before falling one win short of becoming a multiple Villar Cup winner. (PNA)