Flashing his wizardry, ‘Bata’ Reyes schools Pacquiao in friendly between icons
Efren “Bata” Reyes had just completed a masterclass beating Manny Pacquiao in an exhibition 10-ball match that looked more of a friendly than a duel for bragging rights Thursday evening when the pool legend was jokingly asked if he would try to lock horns with the boxing hero in the squared circle.
“Kung maglalaro kami ng boksing, siguradong tulog ako (If we faced off in a boxing match, I’m sure that he would easily put me to sleep),” a smiling Reyes responded after the event held inside Mansion Sports Bar and Lounge in Makati City.
Reyes took a 9-4 victory before an audience privileged to see the private event backed by M88 Mansion along with media members and hired cheerleaders tasked to root for their assigned participant.
It’s a relaxed atmosphere for Reyes, who recently came back from the 32nd Cambodia Southeast Asian Games which ended with the 58-year-old missing out on a medal in the men’s 3-carom event.
The man called “The Magician” weaved a glimpse of the skills he had brandished through a storied pool career that continues to look more mythic each passing day.
A legend wearing a pair of gloves, Pacquiao is known to try his hand in other sports, particularly chess and billiards.
Aside from sponsoring local pool tournaments, Pacquiao has had a chance to face Reyes on the pool table at several exhibitions in recent years.
In their latest encounter, the two sports figures split the first four racks before Reyes pounced on a few Pacquiao miscues to lead 5-2.
Pacquiao closed the gap to 5-4, only to encounter more errors that allowed Reyes to claim the four racks to seal the win.
“It’s always an honor to play against our hero, but I was surprised with how he has improved,” Reyes said of Pacquiao.
The two are expected to meet in a rematch in the near future, but it won’t likely be another pool game or, heaven forbid, a boxing exhibition.
That could be in a sport that the two greats had already played in the past—and against each other too—a mental, more than physical, test.
“Chess here we go,” said Pacquiao.
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