Who could forget the First Filipino and Asian inducted to the Billiard Congress of America’s “Hall of Fame”?
On August 26, 1954, Efren Reyes or better known as Efren “Bata” Reyes was born. At the age of 5, he moved to Manila along with his family due to poverty. At his uncle’s small billiard hall, he served as a billiard attendant and from there he started learning and understanding the cue sports. Because as a boy he was short to reach the billiard table, he used soft drink cases for him to be able to move around the table. At night, he also used the same pool table for his bed.
At his young age he became good in this sport. He was called Bata, which means “Kid” in Filipino since there was also an old pool player named Efren then. So for them to be able to distinguish which Efren it was, they started calling him Bata.
He was discovered by promoters after establishing himself as a winner back in the 1960s and 1970s by playing three cushioned billiards. During the 1980s, he went to the U.S. to hustle when he became a top-class billiard player in his homeland. He wion the tournament and earned US$80,000 in a week. It also made him internationally recognized and a hero back home.
He then met Susan Reyes and married her and they were blessed with three children. His son, Frennie Reyes, once competed in the Asian Nine-ball Tour.
Not long after, he bagan winning series of tournaments in the U.S, Europe and some parts of Asia. This winning started to gain attention and recognition in the world of billiards and pools. For him to be able to compete, he hid his identity and used aliases. In 1990s, alongside with Jose Parica and Francisco Bustamante, he became one of the elite players of the Philippines.
But what made him most famous was when he become the first non-American to win an event, after he defeated Nick Varner in the finals of the US Open Nine-Ball Championship in 1994.
After two year, Efren Reyes came face-to-face with Earl Strickland to a tournament named after a movie The Color of Money. The three-day event was a race-to-120 challenge match of 9-ball and a winner-take-all prize of US$100.000 held in Hong Kong. In the pool event, this was the largest single-winning purse ever.
In 1999, it was Efren Bata Reyes who became the first to win via national television the WPA World 9-ball Championship. Although it was Earl Strictland who really first won the tournament but it was not recognized yet by the WPA. On the later part, Reyes was acknowledged as the winner of the two world championships.
Reyes competed with over 700 players and won first prize beating Neils Feijen in the International Billiard Tournament in Tokyo with a winning of US$170K. It was the biggest first prize in pool tournament in 2001.
Defeating Mika Immonen in 2002 International Challenge of Champions in a deciding rack after both players split sets, he won the $50K winner-take-all.
Before the end of 2004, he became the first player to win world championships in two different disciplines in WPA history after beating Marlon Manalo in WPA World Eight Ball Champion.
A winning a record-breaking of $200K , Reyes beat fellow Hall of Fame Mike Sigel in the IPT King of the Hill 8-ball Shootout with two sets to none (8-0 and 8-5) in December 2005.
In the inaugural World Cup of Pool in 2006, Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante represented their country as Team Philippines defeating Team USA,Earl Strickland and Rodney Morris to capture the title.
During the same year, Reyes won over Rodney Morris 8-6 in the IPT World Open Eight Ball Championship which earned him $500K . But unfortunately, during also that time he wasnt able to claim all the prize money due to IPT”s financial problem in 2007.
With the Filipino tandem Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante won over the German Thorsten Hohmann and Ralf Souquet in 2009 with the grueling score of 11-9 taking them to their second championship title.
In the 12th annual Derby City Classic in 2010, Efren Reyes became the most successful player in the tournament’s history as he hold his fifth title as the overall champion.