The magic may have waned, but the legend lives on.
Efren “Bata” Reyes remains one of the top draws in Philippine sports even at the age of 65 as shown in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
The iconic pool player with the charismatic smile still packed them in, and was easily the most sought after member of the men’s billiards and snooker team.
Reyes, with his deteriorating eyesight, only settled for a bronze in the men’s carom (one cushion) – not exactly his pet event – during the biennial meet, but nonetheless, was an inspiring presence in the team winning a total of 12 medals, four of them gold.
For all his greatness, “The Magician” has yet to conquer the SEAG where his highest finish was a bronze, five times to be exact, and all of them in men’s carom.
Yet, that doesn’t diminish a bit what the Mexico, Pampanga pride has achieved in the pool table, where he’s been universally acknowledged as the greatest player of all-time.
For that, Reyes is set to be honored with a Lifetime Achievement award by the Philippine Sportswriters Association during the traditional SMC-PSA Awards Nights on March 6 at the Centennial Hall of the Manila Hotel.
At the same time, Bata will serve as special guest speaker during the gala night in a rare function for a man known for his few words. He became the second straight athlete to become guest speaker in the event presented by the Philippine Sports Commission, Milo, Cignal TV, Philippine Basketball Association, and Rain or Shine after Olympian Bea Lucero last year.
Team Philippines is the recipient of the coveted Athlete of the Year award from the country’s oldest media organization for defying the odds and winning the overall championship in the SEAG.
Reyes, incidentally, was a three-time winner of the Athlete of the Year plum solely given by the PSA in 1999, 2001, and 2006.
For the Lifetime Achievement award, Reyes, whose humble beginnings and simple demeanor endeared him to the Filipino masses, was a hands-down choice following the massive success he achieved both in the local and world stage.