MANILA, January 6, 2006
(STAR) Efren "Bata" Reyes, the durable Filipino pool hero whose talent and skills on the felt table remain unmatched through the years, emerged as the worlds top earner in the sport last year with winnings of $279,169 (roughly P14.8 million).

That included his scintillating victory over fellow Hall of Famer Mike Sigel of the US in the International Pool Tour (IPT) King of the Hill 8-ball shootout in Florida where he won a whopping $200,000 purse (P10.8 million).

Reyes, a former world 9-ball champion, also posted five other victories in the season, including the Derby City Classic in Kentucky and the Japan Open, according to He also had one third, one fourth and two fifth-place finishes for good measure.

Two other Filipinos Marlon Manalo and Francisco "Django" Bustamante also figured well in an explosive year for the local bets in the international scene with Manalo finishing third with $199,500 and Bustamante settling for fourth with $140,272 in winnings.

Manalo, a former snooker champion, won twice in the year, including a stirring victory in the Texas Hold Em Billiards where he pocketed $100,000. He also ruled the Reno Open in Nevada.

Bustamante, on the other hand, had three victories in the Joss NE 9-ball Tour, Masters 9-ball and the All-Filipino 9-ball Open. But it was his third place finish behind Reyes and Sigel in the Florida meet that netted him a juicy $70,000 purse.

Sigel placed second with winnings of $250,000.

Santos Sambajon, a native of Quezon Province, was the other Filipino in the top 10 ranking at No. 10 with earnings of $89,669, including a $73,500 bounty in ruling the Skins Billiards Classic in Atlantic City.

Erik upbeat, predicts a repeat in rematch The Philippine Star 01/06/2006

Three-time world champion Erik "El Terrible" Morales, in deep training in the mountains of Mexico for his upcoming fight with Manny Pacquiao on Jan. 21 in Las Vegas, on Wednesday said he is as much focused and excited as the Filipino ring icon but believes he will still come out the winner the second time around.

Morales said hes very pleased with the way hes been training for the highly-anticipated match at the Thomas and Mack Center, stressing that his buildup, under new trainer Jose Luis Lopez Jr., has been one of the best hes had in years.

"My (training) camp is one of the best Ive had," said Morales as quoted by

Morales, who scored a unanimous decision win over Pacquiao the first time they met last year, has been sparring with former world champions Freddie Norwood and Daniel Atah.

The Mexican champ also said he is expecting contender Steven Luevano to arrive "any day," according to

In his own press conference Tuesday, Pacquiao told mediamen that he is all focused, ready and raring to even things up with Morales, saying the rematch will be an entirely different story.

"I am 100 percent focused and I want to win this fight," said Pacquiao, who partly attributed his last years setback to Morales to a number of distractions, including one involving the fight gloves.

"Yes, I will wear (Cleto) Reyes gloves this time," said Pacquiao. "But what makes this fight different to the previous one is that I have no problems with my manager now, and no problems with my promoter, so I have no distractions. I am working very hard with my training and I am all focused for this fight."

Meanwhile, Solar Sports, the leading sports channel in the country, underlined its commitment of bringing the colossal sporting events to more households by buying a timeslot on giant network ABS-CBN for the telecast of the rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Eric Morales.

The much-anticipated fight is slated on Jan. 21 (Jan. 22 in Manila) at the Thomas Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

The Filipino ring idol lost to the Mexican via unanimous decision on their first meeting.

The bigwigs of Solar Sports and ABS-CBN forged a deal last Dec. 23 to simulcast the event dubbed as "The Battle."

Present during the signing at Le Souffle Rockwell Club were Wilson and William Tieng and Peter Chanliong of Solar Sports and ABS-CBN executives Eugenio Lopez III, Luis Alejandro and Peter Musngi.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved