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Kings Cup captains see exciting, toe to toe duel

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Pool legends Efren “Bata” Reyes and Francisco “Django” Bustamante are the oldest competitors in the Dragon Promotions’ inaugural Kings Cup which shall fire off at Resorts World from November 19 to 21.

While it is an advantage as the two internationally-renowned cue masters will bring along invaluable experience, the Filipino duo is wary Father Time is undefeated.

“Magiging exciting ang labanan dito. Itong mga kalaban namin mga nanggaling na sa mga championship ito,” Team Asia captain Reyes said.

“Sa umpisa mayroon ka talagang kaba pero siguro kung mag-init na o makalamang, mawawala na yun. May pressure sa amin lalo na kapag sa mga one-on-one, diyan na lalabas yung arthritis namin,” Bustamante joked, drawing laughter from the audience.

Reyes and Bustamante team up with Taiwanese phenoms Ko Pin Yi, the current world no. 1 pool player and defending 9-ball and 10-ball world champion, and his brother Ko Ping Chung.

With their teammates in their prime, Reyes said he even felt blessed to have the Ko brothers by his side, knowing it will be a difficult challenge from Team West.

“Paano ko pa didiskartehan tong mga kakampi namin, mas magaling pa sakin tong mga to. Ako muna makikinig sa kanila,” he delightedly said.

Another concern for Reyes when the three-day competition begins is communication. The captain said he already took time to arrange the pairings or groupings in an order that will make them comfortable.

Still, Team West captain Mika Immonen of Finland thinks it might be an advantage for the visitors along the way.

“I think we will have an edge in communication. Just those times where we have to decide how to (shoot), they might get lost in translation along the way. I’m just saying,” Immonen shared.

The Hall of Famer is delighted to finally have a rival in American Shane Van Boening be on his side. Van Boening and Immonen have had many duels in the past especially in the Mosconi Cup, a similar team competition between the USA and Europe.

“I am happy to have Shane with us for a change,” Immonen added on USA’s current no. 1 player. “He is one of the guys to beat right now. He is a brilliant guy.”

Joining the two are Darren Appleton and rising star Albin Ouschan, brother of topnotch women’s pool player Jasmin Ouschan who has been in the Philippines several times.

Asked about whether this is the toughest competition he has faced to date, Immonen agreed, but is also confident his team, an equally talented roster, is up to the challenge.

Immonen added having the experience of playing in different tournaments across the world has helped him learn about the different styles of play, which shall come in handy in the Cup.

“I learned fundamentals in all continents. The Taiwanese are very methodical. Efren and Francisco have this power. I definitely picked up from these schools of play. I am looking forward to an intense battle,” he said.

Bustamante shares the same thoughts.

“Magkaiba ang style eh. Exciting ito dahil first time lang namin makakalaban as a team ang West. Lahat sila world champion,” he said.

Overall, the fans can expect a dramatic duel over the next three days as pool once again takes centerstage in Manila.

“Team Asia will have a lot of support so the pressure is on us. But I think (these guys) can handle the pressure,” Van Boening shared.

Teams will play matches of singles, doubles, triples, and four-on-fours and the side which reaches the most wins after three days the fastest goes on to bag the inaugural Kings Cup crown.

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