PBA INVITATIONAL: FOREIGN TEAMS DUE FOR INVITATIONAL
Pasay City, July 22, 2003 (Star) Three foreign teams start arriving this week to complete the cast in the Samsung-PBA Invitational Championship, the pro-league’s mid-season tournament kicking off Sunday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
South Korean entry Yonsei University will plane in Friday, Chinese club team Jilin Yi Qi is to arrive Saturday while a Yugoslavian selection is booked to fly in on two batches on Wednesday and Friday to give the league a rare foreign flavor.
They are set to compete in the tournament against the Southeast Asian Games-bound RP Team, Red Bull Barako, FedEx Express, Talk N Text, San Miguel Beermen, Coke and Alaska Milk, which got the last berth allotted for pro squads at the end of the qualifying phase on Sunday.
"With the quality teams that have accepted our invitation to compete here, I’m sure we’re in for one exciting tournament," said PBA Commissioner Noli Eala.
Although the lineups of the guest teams will not be finalized until they arrive, early indications point to a top-caliber opposition for the six regular league teams as well as for the cage squad coached by veteran Aric del Rosario.
The Jilin Yi Qi Tigers, who will carry the colors of Star Margarine, will be bannered by 6-6 Sun Jun, a long time mainstay of the Chinese National Team who led the Chinese league in scoring last season with a scorching 32.7 norm.
Another ex-national, 6-8 Wang Yong Bo, is listed on the roster of the Tigers who finished third in the league with 17-9 (win-loss) record behind Guangdong and perennial champion Bayi Rockets.
The Lamoiyan Corporation-backed Yugoslavian selection will be a mix of college standouts and commercial players from Novi Sad with an average height of 6-6.
The South Koreans, on the other hand, will be bannered by four mainstays of the national junior team that whipped rival China, 101-72, in the recently-concluded world junior championships in Greece.
The four — Yang Hee-Jong, Kim Tae-Sul, Kim Jae-Hwan and Lee Kwang-Jae — will be joined by Bang Sung-Yoon, the team’s resident star who was also part of the Sokor team that dealt the PBA-formed RP squad a heartbreaking loss in the last Asian Games in Busan.
The South Korean delegation will be headed by Shin Dong Pa, the legendary Sokor gunner who is the most prominent product of the Yonsei University basketball program.
A press conference will be held within the week to formally present the foreign entries to the media.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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