By Hanah Tabios
At 65, billiards legend Efren “Bata” Reyes remains sharp after defeating his Thai opponent Thongchai Punyawee in the men’s 1-cushion carom quarterfinals with an over 60-point margin Wednesday at the Manila Hotel’s Tent City in Manila.
Reyes advanced to the semifinals match in the hopes of adding to the country’s medal drive.
This, despite his undisclosed medical condition which he shared to the media during the ambush interview right after the game.
“Hindi ko na maitaas ito (right arm). Wala na yung magic ko. Hindi na ako pwedeng magkaliwa, masakit na. Kaya yung mga dating tinitira kong may magic, wala na hindi na gumagana,” he said when asked if he was satisfied with his performance after ending the game with a final score of 100-37.
“Hindi gaganahan yung mga manonood lalo na yung mga nagsipunta rito para panoorin yung mga tirang hindi gumana. Ibig sabihin, dapat yung laban na yun sandali lang yung 100, mga ilang tirahan lang. Ang dami naming tira bago namin matapos ‘yon,” the world renowned Filipino athlete added.
His long years of experience, Reyes said, has somewhat numbed him of jitters.
“Wala akong kaba doon sa laro namin. Syempre yung kalaban ko medyo mahina pa yun so balewala. Kaya lang ang tira [ko] hindi gumagana,” he said in what seemed to be an assessment of his performance.
But he admitted that he is anticipating his match against his Vietnamese opponent which he described as a “world champion” like him.
“Yung susunod ko na kalaban, medyo world champion na yung kalaban ko so ako na ang mahihirapan. Kung ang titirahin ko ganyan, kailangan mas maganda pa doon,” he said.
His family’s presence buoyed up him spirit, Reyes said.
“Masaya din ako na nagpunta din sila. Sa ngayon, tinutulungan din nila ako dito para pampagana.”
He then called on his fellow Filipino athletes to give the Games their best.
“Sa mga kapwa ko atleta, pagbutihin niyong maigi dahil kailangang-kailangan ng ating bansa ang mga medalya,” he said.