ACES, TIGERS BACK IN GRIND TODAY AT PHILSPORTS
MANILA, September 3, 2003 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Invitational Cup title protagonists Alaska Milk and Coca-Cola return to action after a week’s rest, taking on separate opponents to start their campaign in the PBA Reinforced Conference at the Philsports Arena today.
The Aces tackle the Sta. Lucia Realtors at 5 p.m. then the Tigers tangle with the Purefoods Hotdogs at 7:30 p.m.
Aside from both being finalists in the recent Invitational Cup, the Aces and the Tigers have one other thing in common, unveiling returning imports in the season-ending tourney. Alaska Milk again tapped the services of Chris Carrawell while Coca-Cola signed up former Mobiline (now Talk n Text) import Tim McClarry.
Carrawell, who suited up with the Aces last year, tests the mettle of Sta. Lucia’s Nate James while McClarry, who led the Phone Pals to the 1998 Centennial Cup championship, sizes up Purefoods’ Harold Arceneaux.
Purefoods was forced to take in Arceneaux in the final minute with original choice Derrick Brown unable to wiggle out of a previous playing commitment in the US. Brown, a former PBA Best Import awardee, won’t be available until the end of September.
The Realtors and the Hotdogs will be back in action after missing the Invitational Cup won by the Aces over the Tigers.
The Hotdogs are returning with yet another new recruit in former Barangay Ginebra forward Ronald Magtulis. Purefoods earlier signed up free agent pointguard Egay Echavez in the team’s closing games in the All-Filipino Cup.
Purefoods has been in the worst slump in franchise history with the Hotdogs losing all their last 10 games dating back to the first conference. The team missed the Invitationals as it went 0-of-4 in the qualifying round.
But coach Ryan Gregorio and his boys are hopeful the worst is over. They hope to redeem themselves this conference.
"Parang US team (in the recent FIBA Tournament of Americas) kami. Redemption is on our mind," said Gregorio.
"At baka yung eliminations namin sa Invitationals blessing in disguise. Napahinga kami ng maaga, kaya minor na lang ang injuries ng mga players namin," Gregorio added.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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