Saturday, June 15, 2024
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‘I love you!’ SEA Games goes gaga over ageing pool ‘Magician’

HANOI (AFP) – Filipino pool legend Efren Reyes suffered a second loss in two days at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games but that did not diminish him in the eyes of hundreds of fans who chased him as he left Thursday’s defeat out a back door.

The 67-year-old, regarded as one of the world’s finest players in his heyday, faced off against local hope Tran Quyet Chien in a three-cushion billiards quarter-final in Hanoi.

Thousands of people packed Ha Dong Gymnasium in the Vietnamese capital with many there to catch a glimpse of Reyes take on an opponent 29 years his junior.

Cheers erupted from the mostly Vietnamese crowd as Chien quickly took an initial 12-point lead over Reyes, who is nicknamed ‘The Magician’ for his skill at the table in his glory days.

But there were also loud hurrahs as Reyes threatened to conjure up a comeback, before Chien pulled away for an easy victory.

The two men smiled and shook hands, before Reyes left out the hall’s back way as hundreds of young fans dashed out the exits, chasing after their hero.

Retreating to a room for his own safety, he was later escorted by several policemen – including one who dangled a crackling taser at fans who got too close – to a waiting bus.

Philippines’ Efren Reyes. PHOTO: AFP