WORLD POOL:  BATA  POCKETS  RICHEST  EVER  PURSE  -  P25 MILLION

RENO, NEVADA, SEPTEMBER 12, 2006 (STAR) Efren "Bata" Reyes proved steadier than American Rodney Morris in a pressure-packed, error-filled finale in the International Pool Tourís World Open 8-Ball Championship, pulling off an 8-6 triumph to win the richest purse ever staked in pool history ó $500,000 (P25 million) ó at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nevada Sunday (Monday in Manila).

The victory came two days after Filipino bowler Biboy Rivera burned the lanes in Busan, South Korea where he rolled a perfect game in the final match to bag the coveted masters crown in the World Menís Championships and three weeks after Reyes himself teamed up with Francisco "Django" Bustamante to win the inaugural World Cup in Wales.

Bucking a controversial foul shot in the 11th rack and pouncing on Morrisí third scratch on the break in the 13th, Reyes reached the hill, 7-6, then leaned on a lucky break on the next that saw the 15 ball collide with the blue 2, sending it rolling straight into the corner pocket.

He then came up with a risky carom on the green 6, which he barely made before the Filipino legend pocketed the rest, including the princely $.5-million prize.

"I missed two eight balls, I think, but they were both corner pockets. It made me feel nervous ó when Iím shooting that, Iím shaking a little bit. Thatís why I missed those two eights," said Reyes in Filipino.

But overall, it was Morris who crumbled.

"Di ko rin talaga malaman kung bakit ako ang nanalo dito," said Reyes in jest in a TV interview, humbling himself even after he had humbled the best in world pool.

At the same time, Reyes, 52, thanked his Filipino fans for their prayers and support and then mentioned the luck that his new born grandchild had brought to the latest and biggest triumph of his checkered pool career.

"This is my biggest win and I offer this to my family specially to my newly-born grandchild. I think she brought me luck," said Reyes.

Reyes didnít have to dish out a perfect game to dispose of Morris and win the biggest purse offered in the sport. In fact, it was an error-filed finale with a combined 10 dry breaks and which saw neither player ever able to gain any momentum.

For one, Morris seemed to be real shaken. His normally reliable break abandoned him when he needed it most, scratching three times on the snap to hand Reyes easy run outs.

The Filipino icon, on the other hand, was far from the player pool fans used to seeing as his position play kept him in trouble in some stretch of the match. He later admitted that his nerves made his arm feel "strange" and he just could not control the cue ball.

One of the crucial points came late in the match when Morris played a safety. He attempted to hide Reyes from his only remaining ball, the black 8, but left a very small window for the man they call "The Magician" to squeeze through.

Reyes made the shot but referee Ken Schuman ruled that he had brushed the 15 ball, thus giving the game and the break to Morris. However, the next snap was one of those that Morris scratched.

There were very few break and runs in the match, but Reyes got one when he needed it. Leading, 7-6, the former world 9-ball champion broke and was fortunate to have a ball get kissed into a pocket. From there he managed the table the best he had all day and never let Morris out of his seat. Morris settled for $150,000.

When asked of his plans for the prize money, Reyes said: "My children need to remodel their house."

That should indeed be one heck of a house. ó Dante Navarro


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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