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Efren "Bata" Reyes

 

Francisco "Django" Bustamante

 

Asian gold medalists

 

Other billiards champion

 

 

 

 

 

 

Efren "Bata" Reyes

 

While Paeng is recognized as the finest Filipino athlete, Efren "Bata" Reyes is undoubtedly the most admired Filipino champion. A 1999 survey conducted by local poll firm Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that "the Magician" is the sports personality most admired by Filipinos.

Bata's magic can be attributed to his humility and his sheer delight in associating with the common tao. His charm can also be credited to the fact that he has been a world champion for many times and is considered the finest billiard player of all time.

In 1995, Bata was ranked as the world's number 1 billiard player. Least known among his exploits is the fact that Bata is a four-time World 8-Ball champion. It is said that nobody could rival Bata's strategy in the 8-ball. In 1999, he clinched the World 9-Ball Championship in Wales, proving that he is an all-around billiard player.

Because of his exploits in Wales, his two gold medals in the 20th Southeast Asian Games in Brunei, and five other major international titles all in one year, Bata received the Athlete of the Year in 1999. For the second time, he was named Athlete of the Year for his exploits in 2001.

In its December 21, 2001 issue, the prestigious Time Magazine has included Reyes in its roster world's best in sports and described him as the Philippines' "sole bona fide international sports superstar".

Aside from the World 8-Ball and Word 9-Ball championships, other international tournaments he has bagged since 1985 include the Tokyo 9-Ball Tournament, the World League Title, International Challenge of Champions 9-Ball Classic, First Masters 9-Ball Championship, Pro-Tour Championship, Derby City One-Pocket, Camel Pro 8-Ball, Masters 9-Ball, among others. In 1995, the US magazine "Billiards Digest" named him as the Player of the Year.

Bata Reyes, who is still an active player, was born in Pampanga in 1953.


 

Francisco "Django" Bustamante

 

In 1998, Django Bustamante, who has the most smashing break in billiards, was considered the world's number one billiard player because of the string of victories he won in the United States, Europe, Japan and the Philippines. The US magazine "Billiards Digest" also named him as the Player of the Year for 1998.

Django has bagged the World Pool Masters Championship twice (1998 and 2001). Other international tournaments he has won over the years include the Camel Pro Billiards Series, ESPN Champion of Champions, Japan Open 9-ball event, Peninsula 9-Ball Open, Riviera Hotel Pro- 8-Ball Open Championship in Las Vegas, All-Japan Championship, and IBC 9-Ball.

Despite the death of her young daughter, Bustamante placed second behind Earl Strickland of the United States in the World 9-Ball Championship held in Cardiff, Wales in July 2002. In October of the same year, Django together with Antonio "Nikoy" Lining won a gold medal in the 9-ball doubles event of the Asian Games in Busan, South Korea.

Django was born in Tarlac in 1964 and is based in Germany.

 

  Asian Gold Medalists


Billiards has produced two Asiad gold medals for the Philippines. In the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games, Romeo Villanueva and Gandy Valle brought home the country's only gold medal, after capturing the 9-ball doubles event title. On October 7, 2002, Francisco "Django" Bustamante and Antonio "Nikoy" duplicated the feat by winning the 9-ball doubles event at the 14th Asian Games held in Busan, South Korea.


 

Other Billiards Champions


Aside from Bata and Django, the Philippines teems with world billiards champions. Jose "Amang" Parica, for example, was the number one pool player in the US in 1997. Other champions include Edgar Acaba, Dodong Andam, Lee Van Corteza, Ramon del Rosario, Ramil Gallego, Warren Kiamco, Antonio "Nikoy" Lining, Rodolfo Luat, Dennis Orcullo, Alex Pagulayan, Santos Sambajon, and Romeo Villanueva.