SMB OKAY AS LONG AS ART LONG IS OKAY / LAIYA SPORT-FISHING TILT SET

MANILA, March 15, 2004  (STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Better call him Art Energy or Art Power, not Art Long.

Long was energy and power personified last night, utterly dominating the paint as San Miguel Beer sustained its sizzling start in the Gran Matador PBA Fiesta Conference with an 86-77 whipping of Red Bull Barako at the Araneta Coliseum.

Red Bull Barako unveiled a new import in Doug Wrenn in anticipation of Longís havoc but the former Seattle SuperSonic and Toronto Raptor still did just that in leading San Miguel to a fourth straight win in the PBA transition tourney.

Long grabbed 30 rebounds and scored 27 points, nearly coming away with the first 30-30 game in the league since Julius Nwosu logged 37 points and 31 rebounds in Purefoodsí 81-78 decision over Mobiline in the 2000 Commissionerís Cup. Longís board production was also the best by any PBA player since Nwosu hauled down those rebounds over three years ago.

He was so dominant there were moments early on when he had had more rebounds than the whole Red Bull Barako team. At the half, the San Miguel man-mountain had 18 rebounds as against the Thunderís 21.

Long could have easily wiped out Nwosuís record had he not opted to start taking it a bit easy after the Beermen erected a 17-point spread at 68-51 at the outset of the fourth quarter. He went without a single rebound in the last six minutes of play.

Still, the battle of the boards proved to be the biggest factor in the contest with the Beermen outrebounding the Thunder, 65-43.

Wrenn just couldnít find an answer for Longís tremendous power, struggling for only 12 points and nine rebounds as the Thunder suffered their second loss against the same number of wins.

With San Miguel already hurdling three championship contenders in Barangay Ginebra, Talk n Text and Red Bull Barako with relative ease, many PBA watchers are now entertaining possible sweep by the Beermen of the eliminations.

"As long as we stay together, I do believe no one can stop us," said Long.

"It wonít be all me. Olsen (Racela), coach (Jong Uichico) and the rest of my teammates keep on saying they (the other teams) are out to get me out of the court. But I expected that when I was on the plane going here," added the temperamental import.

"Art is the pillar of our offense and defense. Heís sacrificing a lot and keeping the team together especially when everything is not going well for us," said Uichico.

But Long admitted itís tough "especially when the refs are not seeing the fouls."

Against the Thunder, Long had face-to-face confrontations with Mick Pennisi and Enrico Villanueva after hard fouls. Curiously, Long incurred a hefty fine after figuring in a near free-for-all versus the Thunder two years ago.

LAIYA SPORT-FISHING TILT SET From : Philippine Game Fishing Foundation Contact: S. 'Fil' Filipino, Tel. 373-7371 Fil@winwinzoom.com

Bouyed by their bountiful dorado catches last year, Philippine Game Fishing Foundation returns this weekend to the coastal waters of San Juan, Batangas for the two-day Laiya Sportfishing Tournament. PGFF anglers Mario Tayag and Bobby Garcia support this third light tackle (up to 12#-line) event of the 12-leg Angler of the Year (AOY) race.

Past AOY Garcia edges 2004 light tackle champion Edmund Lim and Limís teammate Antonio Ng Jr. Willie Yap and Boy Co trails the trio. Early entries include PGFF managing director Rey Buencamino, Amado Dy, Efren ChuaYap, tournament director Catch Santos, Crispin Saez, Ferdie Layson, Edmund Lim, Antonio Ng Jr., Jess Bartolome Sr., Edwin Guzman, Peter Tan, Edwin Fernandez, Capt. Ben Solis, Hall of Famers Rico Gueco and Bert Lingayo Sr., Lito Tanseco, Tony Espejo and 2004 AOY Bong Nery.

For details, contact PGFF (Camille) at Tels. 373-0248 / 373-0743; E-mail: pgff1940@yahoo.com.

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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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