FRAME OF MIND: Nguyễn Trần Thanh Tự aims for his first-ever gold medal. Photo courtesy of thethaosggp.org.vn
Filipino legend Efren "Bata" Reyes lost in the semi-finals of the men's one-cushion carom to Việt Nam's Nguyễn Trần Thanh Tự at Hà Đông Gymnasium on May 18.
Reyes, 67, ended his bid for a gold medal after he was defeated by Tự with a score of 55-100, as this is not his strong suit.
Before the match, Reyes admitted that it was very tough to beat Vietnamese players in one-cushion carom since the country possesses several high-quality players in this discipline.
Reyes opened the game with a 5-0 lead, but home player Tự fought back spectacularly, taking the lead with 27 points.
Even though the Filipino legend scored 13 consecutive points, he was unable to close the gap.
By the end of the game, Reyes had almost no chance of tying the score.
Thanh Tự earned the final victory with a score of 100-55. Due to this loss, Reyes holds only a bronze medal from the SEA Games 31.
Talking about his performance in the semi-finals, Tự said: "Not that I'm unhappy, it's okay to win, but I think I will work harder in the final."
He also added: "I am excited and honoured to battle against Reyes. Many others wish to compete with him but they cannot."
Despite the loss, Việt Nam was able to make Reyes feel right at home with a warm welcome.
The billiards legend was surrounded by fans in the venue. Hundreds of Hà Đông's audience cheered his name and praised him as a brilliant 'magician'.
On May 19, at 10am, Tự will face his compatriot Phạm Quốc Tuấn in the final match. As in 2019, Việt Nam will be assured of the gold medal in this Games.
Tự, commenting on the final match, said: "It is impossible to predict anything. The professional level between me and him is 50-50. If asked, I'm sure Tuấn will answer the same."
The 67-year-old Reyes will still be competing in three-cushion carom on Friday when he meets the world's No 3 player Trần Quyết Chiến of Việt Nam. VNS