MANILA, Philippines—Far removed from his glory days that made him the greatest pool player ever, Efren “Bata” Reyes’ magic hasn’t worn off after all these years—even after a loss.
Despite losing to hometown bet Tranh Thanh Tu Nguyen in the men’s 1-cushion carom semifinals at the 31st Southeast Asian Games, Reyes was still treated like winner as cheers from a predominantly Vietnamese crowd at Ha Dong Gymnasium poured on all the way to the exits for the Filipino legend on Wednesday.
Reyes may not be the biggest star in this year’s Games but his legacy and impact on the sport are invaluable—with multiple medals and championships—while his charisma remains undeniable.
After cruising to victory, 100-55, a star struck Tranh proceeded to take a selfie with Reyes, whose toothless smile never goes out of style.
In the 2019 Games in Manila where he also finished with the bronze medal in the same event, the 67-year-old Reyes had mulled over retirement.
“I can’t really tell, but it’s been difficult because my skills are diminishing instead of improving,” Reyes said after losing in the semifinals in the 2019 edition.
His presence, however, still looms large.
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