RED BULL KEEPING SCOTT BURRELL
MANILA, OCTOBER 8, 2003 (MALAYA) By NOLI CORTEZ - Scott Burrell had been there, done that. The same cannot be said of Lenny Cooke.
It's not only making the NBA that we're talking about here. It's also helping their respective teams get to where they want to be in the Samsung PBA Reinforced Conference.
Burrell, the 33-year-old workhorse who won an NBA championship with the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in 1998, has done everything but lose since he joined Red Bull Barako.
An injured big toe notwithstanding, Burrell will try to do it anew today as the Thunder eye a fifth straight win at the expense of Cooke and the Purefoods Hotdogs at the PhilSports Arena.
In the other match, Ginebra and Sta. Lucia Realty slug it out in an expectedly tense duel between two teams coming off losses.
"He has helped in other ways," said Red Bull coach Yeng Guiao of Burrell who has submitted a grand total of 22 points in their last two games but has played defense, assisted and focused on rebounding.
"We're very happy with Scott in the four games he played with us and there's no truth to the rumors we're out to replace him," said Guiao. "He contributes with his presence, his leadership and his smarts. He makes us a smart team."
He has even cheered his teammates, provided them with a steadying presence and lent them an air of intimidation, as if the most talented lineup in the league still isn't intimidating enough.
One proof: Burrell felt Ginebra's Romel Adducul was unnecessarily being too physical on him at the Ynares Center in Antipolo last Friday. After jawing with the Kings center, Burrell asked for the ball and drained a clutch triple.
In the end, Burrell finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists, fuelling the Thunder's 85-80 win that stretched their rise from a 1-2 start with Rammel Lloyd, their original import who proved to be too one-dimensional.
Cooke, 21, who should have been up there with last year's NBA ROY winner Amare Stoudamire had it not been for brushes with academic deficiencies and injuries, debuted with 49 points and 15 rebounds last Friday. But he failed to lift Purefoods out of a third straight loss.
Still, Guiao believes Cooke should be a perfect fit for the Hotdogs who have struggled for inside baskets. "He's a very athletic import and he loves to score a lot around the rim area. I don't think he can be stopped there. We'll have to find a way to push him off," said Guiao.
The wizened mentor, however, also pointed out Cooke cannot single-handedly bail the Hotdogs out of their funk.
"He's not going to win games on his own. The locals will have to step up," Guiao explained.
Kerby Raymundo, who averages a little over 15 points a game, will try to provide Cooke with that kind of support. Raymundo is known to be extra motivated when playing against his former team.
Minus Eric Menk, who is still out with a calf injury, Ginebra will hope Jun Limpot, Alex Crisano, Rommel Adducul and Mark Caguioa will continue to step up.
Import Ricky Price, Bal David and Sunday Salvacion should also make their presence felt if they hope to win against the Realtors.
Sta. Lucia import Nate James, however, is dealing with a foot injury that cost the team a narrow loss to Coca-Cola last Saturday.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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