Have you heard of the Pinoy who beat NBA Superstars Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Lamar Odom, LeBron James and even NBA Legend Charles Barkley in basketball?
His name is Ricardo Reyes. He is a Filipino immigrant working for the Barney's Beanery restaurant in West Hollywood, California. He was featured at the Jimmy Kimmel Show and have won a 2010 Ford Mustang as his prize for beating five NBA greats.
Impossible? Read on to believe...
The catch? Ricardo Reyes who is 41 years old beat Kobe, Melo, L.O., LeBron and Chuck not basketball in a regular basketball court but in a basketball arcade game called Pop-A-Shot. It's the ball and hoop game we play at arcades and entertainment centers where we put in coins or tokens and shoot balls for a limited time.
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It’s no secret that Filipinos love basketball. Basketball courts can be found all over the country. Everyone, from the poor to the rich, simply eats, drinks, and breathes this game.
Thus, players from the Philippine Basketball Association such as Jayjay Helterbrand, Kelly Williams, James Yap and Asi Taulava are greatly revered by fans. Athletes from the National Basketball Association(NBA) such as
Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Manu Ginobili, and Carmelo Anthony are also a big deal, and are often regarded with something akin to awe.
Recently, a certain Ricardo Reyes catapulted into the limelight when he did what most basketball fans can only dream of doing: beating Bryant, James, and Anthony in a game.
Pop-A-Shot isn't quite a hardcourt ball game, but it is a challenge to players aiming to practice their shooting skills.
Discovered by Jimmy Kimmel while working as a busboy for the restaurant called Barney's Beanery, Reyes, 41 years old and standing less than six feet tall, is surely not your typical basketball player. Yet aside from Bryant, James, Ginobili and Anthony, Reyes also beat pro ballers
Lamar Odom and Charles Barkley in Pop-A-Shot.
The goal of the game and other ones like it is simple: shoot as many balls as you can into a mini-basketball goal in under a minute, and the one who scores the most will be declared the winner.
For a player who earns millions of dollars a year shooting an orange ball through a 10-foot-high hoop, getting a beatdown from a guy who looks very far from a seasoned basketball player must really, really feel bad.
How he beat the stars
Reyes destroyed 6'9" behemoth Lebron James, the NBA's reigning Most Valuable Player, by a whopping 30-point margin in the Jimmy Kimmel Show.
Days later, Barkley became Ricardo’s next victim. Although the “round, mound of rebound” had a better start than James, Reyes proved too much for him. In the end, Reyes cruised to an easy 85-51 victory.
Against Bryant, (who recorded the second most points scored in an NBA game at 81), Reyes was still unstoppable.
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Ricardo Reyes vs. Kobe Bryant (blogdebasket)
Unlike Barkley and James who didn’t look like they were trying, Bryant had his game-face on.
Although Bryant finished a respectable 58 points in less than a minute, Reyes' 82 points put Bryant's fieldgoals to shame.
Odom and Anthony also felt the Reyes' Pop-A-Shot wrath. Odom lost by 49 points and Anthony, who is a very good shooter himself, lost by 46.
None of the NBA players Reyes beat had any idea what hit them.
Who is Ricardo Reyes?
The most amazing thing about Reyes is how fast he uncorks his shots when he plays Pop-A-Shot. If you have ever played it, or variations of it, in arcades, you will know that the faster you go, the harder it gets.
The game involves a lot of concentration, accuracy, and consistency, as well as some measure of shooting skill and physical endurance.
A regular guy would start sputtering after 30 seconds of non-stop shooting. Reyes however, has made this simple game into an art form. According to calculations, he’s actually capable of throwing 240 shots in 60 seconds or roughly 1.35 shots per second.
That’s how quick he is. If you’re a fan of the game, and even if you're not, watching Reyes perform is surreal.
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Charles Barkley vs Ricardo Reyes (blogdebasket)
Reyes is a quiet and unassuming guy when he’s not playing Pop-A-Shot. He’s also humble, and to some extent, even charming. These are the things that made him such a darling when he defeated all those NBA greats.
Reyes’ love affair with Pop-A-Shot started 10 years ago when he was already working at Barney’s, said his profile on the restaurant's website. Wanting to do something during breaks, he turned to the machine (called “Shoot to Win”) in the restaurant he works.
Initially, his scores only reached 300 points, but after weeks of constantly playing the game, his scores gradually increased.
Every night, he would feed the machine with quarters when his shift was over. Since he didn’t really earn a lot in his resto gig, his wife always asked where the money went each time he went home.
Reyes didn’t tell his wife where his money actually went, said the Philippine Star, but ever since Jimmy Kimmelgave him keys to a new Mustang, he doesn’t think his wife would ever ask again.
According to BookmakersInc., which touts Reyes' skills as "any bookmaker's goldmine," Reyes' boss David Houston jokingly said, “I do worry for Kobe because since his wins over James and Barkley, Ricardo has been spending so many hours at the hoop that it’s hard to get a table bussed around here."
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Ricardo blindfolded on ESPN2's SportsNation (barneysbeanery)
Success of the US immigrant
Reyes migrated to the United States from Mexico 20 years ago, said Sports Illustrated. He has lived the blue-collar life since he was young, and only recently catapulted to Pop-A-Shot fame.
The 41-year old Fil-Am has three children and until now, he works five shifts a week for Barney’s.
What makes Reyes’ achievement appealing to everyone is how he, a blue-collar immigrant, humbled NBA players who are being paid millions to shoot basketball night in, night out.
He’s not tall or even athletic, but through years of honing his skills, he has become the best at what he does.
Reyes is a feel-good story for every immigrant who wants to make it big in some foreign land.
Obviously, Reyes’ short limbs, amazing agility, and superb focus are tailor-made for the game of Pop-A-Shot. However, having a blue-collar mentality gave him the real edge against other players.
That’s because Reyes knew deep down that if he didn’t work hard enough, he won’t be able to accomplish anything. With very little opportunity available to him, working hard and not giving up are the only things that he has.
The love affair with basketball continues
The popularity of Ricardo Reyes here in the country shows just how much Filipinos love Pop-A-Shot’s parent sport: basketball.
For a country that has not produced a single NBA player yet, Reyes is the closest thing that we have who can go toe-to-toe against the likes of Bryant, James, Anthony, Odom, and Barkley.
Regardless whether our country is successful in international basketball competitions or not, our love affair with basketball continues. In fact, the more we struggle to deliver in major tournaments, the more we want to succeed.
Right now, we still don’t have anyone who is good enough to fill the 13th spot in any NBA team. While we’re waiting, we have Ricardo Reyes who will gladly shoot over 300 shots to keep us entertained.
Photo: "DSC_0509" by ydshu c/o Flickr. Some rights reserved.