Efren Timbol Reyes is a Filipino professional pool player from Angeles City and a two-time world champion. Reyes is considered to be one of the all-time greats in the games of nine ball and one-pocket. He is nicknamed "Bata" and "the Magician".
Reyes was born in Pampanga in 1954 and moved to Manila with his family, at the age of 5. In Manila, he worked as a billiards attendant at his uncle’s billiards hall, where he started learning the various cue sports. Because he was not tall enough to reach the pool table, he played while standing on Coca-cola cases that he moved around. At night, while he was dreaming of playing pool, the pool table was his bed.
He is called Bata, which is Filipino for "Kid", because there was another older pool player named Efren when he was young. To determine which Efren onlookers were referring to, he was nicknamed "Efren Bata".
Gambling from a young age, Reyes played three cushion billiards in the 1960s and 1970s. After establishing himself as a winner, he was discovered by promoters. This gave him the opportunity to compete in big time tournaments.
Reyes began winning a number of tournaments in the US, Europe and in parts of Asia. Thus, he started to gain attention and recognition worldwide. At the start of his career he used aliases to hide his true identity so he would be allowed to compete. By the mid-1990s, he became one of the elite players of the Philippines alongside Jose Parica and Francisco Bustamante.
Numerous fellow professional players have credited Reyes with being the greatest living player in the world. During ESPN television commentary on a semi-finals match the between Reyes and Mika Immonen at the 2000 Billiard Congress of America Open 9-Ball Championship, veteran professional Billy Incardona stated that Reyes was "indisputably the best player in the world—especially when you consider all games—he can play any game as well as anyone, maybe better than anyone…. In my opinion we’re watching probably the greatest player in my lifetime and I’ve been watching pool for the better part of forty years."