FEDEX CAGERS FALL IN BATAAN

BALANGA, BATAAN, March 12, 2004  (STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Barangay Ginebra overcame a struggling start and the early ouster of ace pointguard Bal David on injury as it bounced back from a loss to San Miguel Beer the last time out, whipping FedEx, 102-93, in a road game in the Grand Matador PBA Fiesta Conference at the Balanga People’s Center here last night.

Eric Menk played an inspired game with his parents cheering behind the bench, spearheading a Ginebra comeback in the second half on the way to their third win in four starts. FedEx remained winless in three outings.

Menk sizzled for 25 points on 7-of-12 shooting on top of 18 rebounds, three assists and one block. Mark Caguioa backed him up with 22 points, 10 rebounds and four steals.

George Reese, Ginebra’s new import who struggled at the start, took it strong to the hoops coming from the halftime huddle as he started to make his presence felt, helping the Kings tie the count at 57-all with 6:49 left in the third.

Working better on both ends of the court, the Express dominated the first 24 minutes of play and carried a 48-37 margin into the second half break.

Although top gunner Renren Ritulo limped out late in the first quarter with a sprained ankle, FexEx never wavered in offense and pulled away, 33-22, on a big start in the second period.

The Gin Kings went on a scoring lull in a span of about six minutes bridging the first two quarters. Eric Menk made it 24-33 as he scored their first basket with over four minutes gone in the second canto.

Meanwhile, Edner Elisma is another new import making his debut in the local pro league tomorrow, suiting up for Purefoods versus Sta. Lucia Realty at the Araneta Coliseum.

Former Best Import awardee Derrick Brown, through his agent Mike Gonzalez, had informed the Purefoods management of his availability but coach Ryan Gregorio said he’ll stick with the much taller Elisma.

The former Georgia Tech standout arrived in the country Wednesday night and immediately impressed the coaching staff and the Hotdogs in practice yesterday.

"Kumpleto ito. May tira sa labas, can shoot with his back to the basket and more importantly mataas. Isa na lang ang question, kung may stamina," said Gregorio of Elisma who took over Reggie Butler.

Gregorio’s other concern in Jun Limpot’s sprained ankle, making him doubtful starter versus the Realtors. "Jun is day to day. Kaya hindi pa namin alam kung pwede na siya sa Saturday," said the youthful Purefoods mentor.

After emerging Georgia Tech’s third all-time leading shot-blocker, Elisma was picked 41st overall by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1997 NBA Draft. Curiously, Elisma played the last 93 games of his collegiate career at center spot. He’s No. 3 in the all-time shot-block ladder at Georgia Tech behind former NBA star John Salley and Malcomn Mackey.

A veteran international campaigner with tours of duty in Israel, Belgium, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, Elisma is coming to the Philippines fresh from his stint with the Asheville Altitude in the NBDL.

In his first pro tournament in Israel in the 1997-98 campaign, Elisma averaged 17 points and 9.4 rebounds.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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