MANILA, NOVEMBER 22, 2003  (STAR) Sta. Lucia Realty overcame a woeful 21-percent shooting and an 11-point deficit in the first half as it made a big charge in the final half for an 88-86 decision over Alaska Milk and the last slot in the Samsung PBA Reinforced Conference Final Four at the Araneta Coliseum last night.

Ray Tutt struggled for only 14 points but converted crucial free throws in the closing seconds, helping the Realtors set up a semifinal confrontation with the San Miguel Beermen.

The best-of-five semifinals start tomorrow also at the Big Dome with Coca-Cola and Talk n Text clashing in the 4 p.m. curtain-raiser and Sta. Lucia and San Miguel colliding in the 6:30 p.m. mainer.

"Ray Tutt said he’s not yet ready to go home. And Kenneth (Duremdes), Marlou (Aquino) and Dennis (Espino) also talked to me, making a commitment to help the team make the semis. And they did it," said Sta. Lucia coach Alfrancis Chua. — Nelson Beltran

Toyota Knights join PBL in 2004 The Philippine Star 11/22/2003

Toyota, the other half of the celebrated rivalry with Crispa in the 70s-80s, makes some kind of a return to the cage scene when Toyota-Otis debuts in the Philippine Basketball League next year.

The R.A. Oben Holdings, Inc., headed by noted sportsman Reginaldo "Rey" Oben, has formally acquired the Nutri-licious franchise, represented by Jesse Chua, during the contract-signing Tuesday, paving the way for the entry of the eighth squad in the country’s premier amateur league.

The team, to be known as the Toyota-Otis Knights, will bring in the core of the reigning NCAA champion squad Letran Knights, whom observers believe, will create a strong impact right in their first conference with their talented roster.

Oben is the team manager of the Letran NCAA teams since 1995 and has won three crowns in that stretch.

Ronjay Enrile, Jonathan Aldave, Aaron Aban and Boyet Bautista spearhead the Toyota-Otis Knights, who will include slotman Jonathan Pinera plus three more PBL free agents. Enrile is currently playing for Montaña but is expected to join his college teammates in the Toyota-Otis squad next year.

Toyota-Otis’ entry likewise marked the first time that the PBL will be welcoming a team affiliated with an NCAA school. Five of the seven teams seeing action in the ongoing PBL Platinum Cup have tie-ups with schools from the UAAP.

This is also the first time that a PBL franchise has been acquired through a sale, indicating that the amateur league has truly come of age as a viable commercial enterprise while maintaining its developmental goals.

"This is a tremendous development for the league," said PBL commissioner Chino Trinidad. "We are very happy with the return of a truly legendary brand name in local basketball to our fold and it shows just how far the PBL has come."

For his part, PBL chairman Dioceldo Sy welcomed the league’s newest member and looked forward to working harmoniously with them. "I feel the entry of the Oben group in general and Toyota-Otis in particular is another very positive development for the PBL."

The other firms under the Oben group of companies are Toyota-Balintawak, Toyota-Balintawak North, Wallem Philippines Shipping, Inc., Wallem Maritime Services, Inc., Cosco Philippines, Shippings, Inc, China Shipping Manila Agency, Inc., and TMS Ship Agencies, Inc.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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