Browse long enough through the Pinoy side of YouTube and you will likely come across dozens, if not hundreds of grainy videos of a man they fondly call ‘Bata’ attempting, and nailing undescribable shots on the pool table.
The term ‘pool artist’ has been the umbrella term used to refer to billiard players worldwide but Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes has certainly given justice to the moniker.
And for exactly those types of shots, and his success in formal competition, the Asian Cultural Alliance has bestowed Reyes the Lifetime Achievement Award in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The living legend was honored for the most part, because of his overall effect on the sport as one of the most decorated players from Asia, and possibly the world.
“We wanted to celebrate Efren [with] the first Asian Culture Achievement Award for him, spreading the joy of pool,” said Ken Hsi, head of the organization.
While Bata isn’t new to hoisting trophies and garnering awards from both local and international tournaments, (he’s actually a recipient of the Order of Lakandula award, the highest honor in the Philippines, and is part of the Philippine Legion of Honor) this one was special for the 73-year-old pool artist as it is the first citation he has received in Las Vegas.
Being recognized as an international icon in the entertainment capital of the world is just an achievement fit for a generational talent like Reyes, and he’s taking his sweet time in relishing it.
“Biro mo… dito pa ko nabigyan ng Lifetime Achievement Award, dito pa sa Las Vegas, hindi doon sa atin,” Reyes said.
Vivian Villareal, a 15-time women’s champion in the pros, had nothing but praise for the Filipino legend.
“Efren is one of a kind. He is The Magician. Nobody can do what he can do,” she said.
It’s the lasting and wide-reaching effect of Bata’s game that makes his legend stand out even further.
And even after nearly seven decades, retirement still isn’t an option for Reyes.
“Pwede pa kong maglaro eh,” Reyes said. “Ewan ko, baka next year or susunod na year na. Basta [kapag] hindi na kaya ng kamay ko, mag-reretire na ko.”
“Hanggang pwede pa, pwede pa,” Bata added.
True to his word, ‘Bata’ will be in New Orleans, Louisianan to compete at the Buffalo Pro One Classic from May 24-27 and plans to join other internatioinal tournaments this year.
There’s just no stopping The Magician.