I have been to the Block at SM City North Edsa, Quezon City, for almost every day of the competition. Believe you me, the semis, particularly the finals match, were jam-packed! I arrived early today – opening time: 10 AM – knowing that the place will be packed to the hilt because three of the last four players left in the competition were Filipinos, i.e., Efren Bata Reyes, Lee Van Corteza, and Roberto Gomez. The other player was Rodney Morris, aka The Rocket, from the USA. And before the finals even got started, over 3,000 people – spread across four floors of The Block - were there to watch the hometown heroes play in the finals - Efren Bata Reyes (Puyat Sports) squaring off against Roberto Gomez aka Superman (Bugsy Promotions)!
Efren Bata Reyes trailed behind Roberto Gomez, aka Superman, early in the match. The Magician was having problems with the shaft he was using. During commercial breaks – after each rack - Efren changed shafts on his pool cue, while his brother, Bong Reyes, and a companion tried to address the problem that The Magician was having with the shaft that he was initially using. And if you watched carefully, Efren even used his break cue at one point of the match because of the problems he was having with his cue shaft!
Bong Reyes and his companion did try to sand Efren’s pool cue shaft to the Magician’s liking. However, there was one small problem – they were out of sandpaper! ‘Twas a good thing that my good friend, pool player Jean Michel Berille, was paying attention to what was going on! Jean Michel, who was sitting beside on my left, quickly got hold of his cue case and pulled out a TipPik and sandpapers of different grades! We passed the stuff to Bong and his companion, who knew what to do and all.
‘Twas around 5-1 in the match, with the Superman leading, that Bong Reyes and his companion finished sanding the shaft. Efren finally felt comfortable with his cue. And what a time it was because Roberto Gomez was making mistakes at this point in time, which allowed Efren to get back in the game! And somehow. Someway. The Magician managed to stir his magic to snatch up the lead at 7-6! From there on, Efren “Bata” Reyes and Roberto “Superman” Gomez went an exciting hill-hill! Bata Reyes was first on the hill, but Roberto quickly followed. And you could clearly see the Roberto had the momentum then! But destiny was not with the Superman today. Pool’s Living Legend won – Efren Bata Reyes – via a 10-9 score!
Sharking during the match? You bet there was some! And from both sides! There were even words between the two Filipino players at one point in time. Still, all was well between the two after the match. And that is the honest truth!
*For those not in the know, Roberto Gomez, who was the first to gain a berth for the finals, really wanted to play Efren in the finals rather than Rodney Morris! Roberto Gomez knew that the fans would be rooting for Efren - putting pressure on pool's Living Legend. And he liked it that way - sort of easing the burden on him.
But as I have stated above, Destiny was not with the Superman today. He remains a bridesmaid still at this point in time. But I have a very strong feeling , and a very strong one, if I may add, that it won't be long that Roberto Gomez would finally put a halt to such.