Story and photos by Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – The exhibition match between Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez and Efren “Bata” Reyes drew a huge crowd during the last day of the 2nd Mayor Albee Benitez 10-ball billiard tournament at the Atrium of SM City Bacolod on Thursday, October 12.
Bacolodnons witnessed a fun and exciting match as Reyes won against Benitez in a score of 2-1.
It was the first time for Bacolodnons to see the mayor and the “Magician” playing billiards against each other.
The exhibition game first opened a doubles match opportunity for Benitez to play with Reyes against Councilor Vladimir Gonzalez and Francisco “Django” Bustamante.
Benitez and Reyes started leading the game with two points, but the match ended at 2-5, in favor of Bustamante and Gonzales.
This sports activity was part of the 44th MassKara Festival that is being celebrated by this city this month.
Last year, Reyes joined the tournament, but his stint was cut short by 15-year old AJ Manas on the fourth day of the competition.
This year, Reyes did not compete, but instead treated billiards’ fans to exhibition games.
A total of 122 participants joined this year’s tournament, which is a major sports event in the festival slated from October 8 to 12.
Bustamante thanked Benitez and the local government for inviting him to the tournament for the second time.
“Kada punta namin dito maganda, sobrang asikaso kami, lalo na’t binibigyan kami ng chicken inasal na favorite namin,” Bustamante said in a media interview after the exhibition game.
He said that he was happy that they were able to give Bacolodnons a good exhibition game to enjoy.
Meanwhile, Ronel Nalaunan of Kalibo, Aklan romped off the tournament with P350,000 in cash.
Nalaunan faced off in the race to 9 final game against Bonnie Pentacasi of Bohol with a score of 9-7, leaving the latter holding the runner-up bag with P100,000 in cash prize.
In the Best of 4 elimination round, Nalaunan beat Edwin Gamas of Pasig City, while Pentacasi eliminated Meynard Tipawan of Bago City, Negros Occidental.
Gamas and Tipawan went home with P50,000 in cash prize after coming in third places.
The youngest player to join the competition was nine-year old Chasz Uy, who was able to achieve his dream of playing against Reyes in an exhibition game on October 11.
The 4th grader in STI West Negros University won against Reyes, in a game race to 4.
He also had a chance to play billiards with Bustamante in his first match. But, he was bowed out of the race after losing his first two games.
According to his father, Philip Andrew, Uy being the youngest of their three children, was introduced to the sport at an early age in their family-owned resto-café.
Uy started playing two years ago, during the time of the pandemic and found that he liked the sport.
Philip’s eldest son and daughter also play billiards, “but it was only Chasz who was excited to compete, thus he was signed up to join the tournament.”
Philip said he is glad of this experience his son will be able to cherish because “not all titled billiards player get to challenge an Efren Reyes.” Even if this is just an exhibition game, it will be memorable to Chasz and even for that, this is all worth it, he added.
Last year, national billiards figure and former Guinness world champion Jundel Mazon, romped off with the championship crown and took home P350,000 cash prize after besting more than 120 players who came from all over the country along with some competitors from Japan and Indonesia.