Manila, July 18, 2003 By Nelson Beltran (Star) Whether they’re cursed or simply hounded by bad lucks, the Purefoods Hotdogs seek Divine Intervention to ease their woes in the current PBA season.

Plagued by freak accidents and injuries no end, the Hotdogs hear a special mass this afternoon at Green Meadows’ Christ the King Church after their practice at the Reyes gym in Mandaluyong.

"We’ve never played with a complete lineup since day one of the season. Kung ano-ano ang kamalasang inaabot namin. Sabi ni (Purefoods team manager) Mr. (Rene) Pardo we’re being tried," said Purefoods coach Ryan Gregorio.

"Papipilahin ko lahat at paghuhubuin ko para malaman ko kung mayroon sa kanilang may balat sa puwit," said Pardo in jest.

Among the troubles the team has suffered are injuries to Alvin Patrimonio, Rey Evangelista, Andy Seigle, Boyet Fernandez, Noy Castillo, Chris Cantonjos, Gilbert Demape, Kerby Raymundo and Egay Echavez.

Health problem is no question the big reason for Purefoods’ awful slide. The Hotdogs have lost their last nine games dating back to the All-Filipino Cup – the worst slump in franchise history.

The Hotdogs have bowed out of the fight for the last berth in the Samsung PBA Invitational Cup with a 0-3 win-loss card in the qualifier. Incidentally, the team also failed to make it past the eliminations in the last three tournaments.

"Tignan mo naman ang lineup namin. Si Richard Yee na galing sa ACL at nawala close to one year, kasama sa rotation," said Gregorio.

The youthful mentor told The STAR he had to cut short one practice session because no less than five players suffered accident one after the other.

"First Echavez suffered a cut on his face, Kerby a dislocated finger, Andy a sprained ankle, Noy a jammed finger and Demape knee contusion. After about an hour and 15 minutes, itinigil ko na ang ensayo," he said.

Gregorio also mentioned Evangelista being bitten by his German Shepherd at home and Purefoods crew member Alex Conejos suffering a liver problem.

"Lahat ng kunektado sa amin at kahit dumikit lang minamalas din," said Gregorio, talking about the UP Maroons and the UST Tigers losing their first games in the UAAP. Gregorio used to coach the Maroons while Pardo was a UST alumnus.

"Si Fidel Mangonon nga nakasama lang namin kumain, nanakawan ang kotse," said Gregorio on the heist on the PBA chief statistician’s car at the Astrodome parking lot Wednesday night. Mangonon lost his Toshiba Satellite Pentium 3 laptop worth P90,000, 9210i cell phone worth P25,000 and a pair of two-way radios worth P5,000.

Meanwhile, the fight for the last berth in the mid-season invitational tourney resumes today with a twinbill pitting Alaska versus Sta. Lucia and Ginebra against Shell at the Astrodome.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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