Manila, July 4, 2003 By Dante Navarro (Star) Efren "Bata" Reyes barged into the semifinal round of the On Cue! Europe vs Philippines 9-ball showdown by beating German Ralf Souquet, 7-5, in a duel of unbeaten masters late last night, streaking to his third straight victory before an appreciative crowd at The Loop Center inside the ABS-CBN compound.

Reyes needed no magical shots to trounce Souquet, only a lucky break from his rival who scratched his shot after the Filipino missed on his break on the 12th rack. Shaking his head

while flashing his toothless grin that endeared him to the local fans, Reyes racked up the victory in an open table, advancing to the semis while stalling Souquet’s own bid in their side of the contest.

"Sinuwerte lang," said the amiable former world pool champion, 48, who will gun for a sweep of the elims against top ranked Mika Immonen of Finland today.

Earlier, Reyes stopped Dutch Niels Feijen, 7-3, in the second round action of the $33,000 event then later admitted that he’s playing far from his peak form. He earlier disposed of Swede Marcus Chamat in an equally one-sided 7-2 triumph Wednesday.

"Malayo pa sa tamang kondisyon. Masama pa rin ang pocket shots ko, kundi kulang ng isang dangkal, sobra naman," said Reyes, who despite his form and the presence of the world’s top-ranked players remains the sentimental favorite to win the top $15,000 purse in this event put up by giant TV network ABS-CBN.

After dropping a heart-breaking 6-7 setback from a 5-2 lead to Feijen late Wednesday, Francisco "Django" Bustamante got back into the thick of things by whipping Chamat, taking five of the last seven racks for a 7-4 win, in the first of a heavy eight-match bill.

But Antonio Lining failed to match his fancied compatriots’ efforts although in one stretch he appeared headed for a big upset over world No. 2 Souquet until the left-handed Filipino bet fell into a maze of errors and blew a seemingly insurmountable 6-3 lead.

That enabled the German ace to pull off a stirring come-from-behind 7-6 victory behind a sweep of the last four racks for the tournament’s worthiest win. It was Souquet’s second win in row following a 7-4 triumph over Warren Kiamco in the first round.

Lining fell to 0-2, the same record of compatriot Kiamco, who bowed to the in-form Immonen, 7-3, for the last match of the second round.

The victory kept Immonen and Souquet tied with identical 2-0 slates, keeping Team Europe way ahead of its counterpart, which could only draw a 2-0 mark from Reyes and a 1-1 record from Bustamante.

Feijen backed Souquet and Immonen with 1-1 mark with only Chamat winless after two games.

Cashing in on Chamat’s error on the fifth rack, Bustamante scored on a 4-9 combination to break a 2-2 tie then barely won on his turn when the diminutive Swede scratched after knocking down the black 8 on the corner pocket to go two racks up at 4-2.

Both players took the racks on the breaks although Bustamante, runner-up in last year’s world pool championship, had to come up with a lucky shot on No. 1 that had the ball hitting two bank shots before disappearing into the side pocket to the delight of the crowd.

Crestfallen, Chamat slumped back into his chair after Bustamante converted on his rival’s safety shot for the victory and the momentum he needed leading to his match against top seed Immonen late last night.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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