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"Bata" Reyes Humbles Pulpul, Wins MP Cup Philippine Open 10-Ball Crown

GENERAL SANTOS CITY--He is 60 years young, old enough to be someone else's grandfather, but Efren "Bata" Reyes defied the effects of aging by emerging champion in the MP (Manny Pacquiao) Cup Philippine Open 10-Ball finale Friday night at the SM City mall here.

The consummate ambassador to the sport for decades now, Reyes capped his victory with a brilliant display of finesse and class, humbling the brash Demosthenes Pulpul, 11-10, who could have showed more respect when Reyes was about to sink the "10" ball on a "gimme" in the 21st game of the match.

Pulpul reached the finals by virtue of a rules infraction by World No. 7 Carlo Biado, who by sheer excitement did not call his final shot and committed a foul, allowing the Cagayan de Oro native to escape with the win. Pulpul also was a recipient of a similar rules infraction in his Round-of-32 match against Roberto Gomez, who also forgot to declare the pocket where the "10" ball would be sank.

But against Reyes, who declared that he would sink the final ball on the left corner pocket, Pulpul did not budge or concede like most sportsmen do in the sport. Reyes, who could have sunk the ball even with one hand, did his classic victory dance and received a thunderous applause from a few hundred spectators.

Reyes won $13,000 for his effort from Congressman Manny Pacquiao, who also competed in the eliminations. Pacquiao, who is celebrating his 36th birthday in a few days from now, bankrolled the $150,00 event and would be teaming up with world champion Ronnie Alcano in the doubles event Sunday.

"Nagpapasalamat talaga ako sa suporta ni Congressman Pacquiao sa sports dahil hindi na kami kailangang mangibang-bansa para lumaban," said Reyes, who teamed up with best friend Francisco "Django" Bustamante at the start of the doubles elimination Saturday.

Now lacking in breaking power than when he was younger, Reyes's defense and wily plays compensated for his diminished strength in disposing much of his opponents including journeyman Benjie Guevarra whom he beat in the semifinals, 9-6.

Pulpul had his moments of brilliance, too, tying the race-to-11 series with an accurate jump shot on the "8" ball en route to sending the match into a sudden-death 21st game. In the final game with Pulpul breaking, the Cagayanon sank the "8" and was en route to clean up the table until he overplayed the "6" ball after a poor preparation shot on the "5."

That allowed Reyes to spring his brilliance and game antics to the full entertainment of the crowd.

Reyes finished the tournament unbeaten, a victory that is sweet following sorry losses the past few years.

Reyes's road to the semis was strewn with great challenges, beating Jerome Adolfo, Horace Angor, American Rodney Morris, his best friend Francisco "Django" Bustamante, John Morra of Canada and Medenilla.

So respectful was Medenilla that he conceded defeat to Reyes in the deciding 17th game, not allowing Reyes to sink the final "10" ball, to the delight of the crowd.

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