MANILA — Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes, renowned as one of the greatest players of all time, finds himself uncertain about his future participation in the Southeast Asian Games, following his early elimination in the round of 16 of the men’s three-cushion carom singles event during the 32nd edition of the games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Asked about his chances of playing in the 33rd SEA Games in 2025, the 68-year-old replied with uncertainty, stating, “Hindi ko alam” (I don’t know).
In his recent match, Reyes suffered a defeat at the hands of Cambodia’s Woo Donghoon, with a score of 15-40.
The loss dashed Reyes’ hopes of securing a third consecutive gold medal in the competition.
Prior to the match, Reyes had underestimated his opponent, assuming that facing Woo, who has Korean lineage, would be an easy task. However, he soon discovered that he was mistaken, remarking, “Akala ko ‘nung una kayang-kaya ko. Hindi, first time ko lang makalaban ‘tong Cambodia” (I thought I could easily take him. It’s my first time facing the Cambodian).
Despite his dedication and love for the sport, Reyes expressed his readiness to step aside and allow younger players to shine. At his age, he believes it is time to pass the torch to a new generation. He mentioned, “Hindi ko alam, pero basta may players na kami na maglalaro ng karambola, papapalit na ako” (I don’t know, but as long as we have players ready to play in the carom, then I can switch out).
Reyes’ uncertainty about his future participation leaves fans wondering whether this marks the end of an era for ‘The Magician.’ With a remarkable career spanning decades and numerous accolades under his belt, including world championships, his potential absence in future SEA Games would undoubtedly leave a void in the world of carom billiards. Only time will tell whether Reyes decides to make a comeback or gracefully step aside, content with the legacy he has created.