MANILA, NOVEMBER 4, 2003 (STAR) Fash Liquid Detergent is going for back-to-back titles while Welcoat Paints is dead-set to relive its glory days. With both teams undergoing some major makeovers, expect another classic showdown between these two giants. Certainly, it will be a guaranteed blockbuster.

Out to erase the bitter memory of finishing sixth in the Sunkist Unity Cup, the Paint Masters have bolstered their line-up by acquiring the sweet-shooting James Yap of the University of the East, 6-foot-7 Ervin Sotto, 6-foot-7 JR Reyes of UP and Nelbert Omolon. They also reactivated the cat-quick Paul Artadi.

With the acquisition of these marquee players plus an array of veterans in the fold, including the vastly-improving Jercules Tangkay, Mark Pingris, Willie Wilson and Mac Cuan, happy days loom in the horizon for the Paint Masters.

Why not?

Even coach Leo Austria is convinced that his team is definitely much stronger and competitive than the one they had in the first conference.

"We are more competitive now because of the presence of Yap, Artadi, Sotto and Reyes. I just hope they can adapt to our system fast," said Austria. "We now have the ceiling with Reyes and Sotto around."

But whether they are ready to dethrone Fash (formerly Hapee) will be known on Saturday when they clash with newcomer Sunkist-University of Santo Tomas in the opening of the season-ending 2003 PBL Platinum Cup at the Pasig Sports Center.

The Paint Masters won five titles since their breakout year in 1999. Badly hit by the exit of several star players like Rommel Adducul, Ronald Tubid and Eddie Laure, the Paint Masters were outmuscled and outrun by their rivals in the last conference.

Veteran Alex Compton will lead the attack for the Tigers along with promising big men in 6-foot-6 Alwin Espiritu and 6-foot-4 Rey Mendoza.

Just like the Paint Masters, the Liquid Powers have also beefed up their line-up by taking in 6-foot-7 Pep Moore of San Sebatian College and Ateneo’s JC Intal and Douglas Kramer.

The Liquid Powers will also see action in the opening day against Montana Pawnshop, a team which is likely to spoil the Welcoat-Fash party.

"We’re going for back-to-back titles and we prepared hard for this tournament," said team manager Bernard Yang. "Halos intact ang line-up namin so hindi problema as adjustment."

Veterans Allan Salangsang and Peter June Simon will share the scoring load for the Liquid Powers while Ateneo’s Rich Alvarez is expected to pose a huge problem in both ends of the court with his patented post-up plays and ferocious rebounding.

Montana coach Bong Go is expected to rely heavily on the explosive Gary David who romped off the MVP plum last conference over established stars like Simon, Alvarez, Salangsang and Ranidel de Ocampo. The team also boast of three NCAA Finals MVPs — Mark Magsumbol (2000), Christian Coronel (2001) and Ronjay Enrile (2003).

Other teams participating in tournament are ICTSI-La Salle, Viva Mineral Water-FEU and the Philippine team. The RP squad, honing up for the Vietnam SEA Games, will be playing as guest team only.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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