MANILA,  August 6, 2004
With King Eagle Larry Fonacier watching from the sidelines, Ateneo played just well enough in the second half to trounce National University, 67-56, yesterday and stretch its winning run to six in the 67th UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

JC Intal fired 20 points, including a one-handed slam in the last seven seconds of play as the Eagles notched their second straight victory without Fonacier, out of the season after sustaining an ACL injury during the Eagles encounter with the UP Maroons last week.

"Tougher games are ahead of us," said Ateneo coach Sandy Arespacochaga.

Actually, the Eagles’ last two victories were hard-earned, including their 58-55 thriller of a win over Adamson last Sunday where they had to fight back from 20 points down and call on LA Tenorio in the dying seconds to turn back the Falcons.

Yesterday, it was Intal’s turn to shine as the lanky Ateneo forward came through with that big offensive game while pulling down 14 rebounds and dishing off a couple of assists in a 28-minute stint on the floor.

With Alex Miclat on the firing end, the Bulldogs even seized control in the first quarter, 18-16, and forced a 33-all count at the turn. Even when the Eagles tried to pull away in the fourth, the Bulldogs gave chase and stayed within 52-53.

But that proved to be the closest NU could get as Ateneo unleashed a strong finishing kick with slotman Paolo Bugia scoring five of the Eagles’ next seven points.

"Now, we can focus on our next opponent," added Arespacochaga, referring to the Eagles’ keenly-awaited match with the defending champion Far Eastern U Tams Sunday.

The Tams survived a gritty UP side and hacked out a 63-56 win in the other contest for their fifth win against a loss. The Maroons reeled to their sixth straight setback.

GMA wishes Olympians the best By Abac Cordero The Philippine Star 08/06/2004

Opening her heart to sports, President Arroyo yesterday wished the Filipino athletes all the best for the forthcoming Athens Olympics then ordered the country’s top sports leaders to soon buckle down to work regarding the hosting of the 23rd Southeast Asian Games next year.

The President met seven of the 16 RP athletes bound for Athens at the spacious, polished Heroes Hall in Malacañang. She shook their hands one by one, had thumbs-up photos taken, then reminded the athletes of the importance of the role they will play in representing the country in the world’s greatest sports competition.

"It’s going to be a great experience. And I will pray for your success," the President, in a gray business attire for her first scheduled activity for the day, told the athletes led by trackster Lerma Bulauitan-Gabito and taekwondo jin Donald Geisler who both saw action in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The President entered the Heroes Hall at 10:15 a.m. and were greeted by sports officials led by PSC chairman Eric Buhain, POC president Celso Dayrit, IOC representative to the Philippines Frank Elizalde, bowling president Steve Hontiveros and weightlifting president Rep. Monico Puentevella. She left exactly 15 minutes later.

"Like millions of Filipinos abroad, our athletes will be a symbol of Filipino excellence and competitiveness in all fields, and our commitment to the universal value of peace and solidarity among all nations and peoples," the President pointed out.

"Right after the Olympics, we should start working for the SEA Games. That’s the next thing we have to attend to," added the Chief Executive who finished a cup of coffee standing while the sports leaders and a couple more athletes listened and gathered around her.

"Especially now that we have world-class athletes like Manny Pacquiao (boxing) and Alex Pagulayan (billiards). Sports is very important to all of us even if it was not included in my (administration’s) 10-point program," said the President, adding that she wants the country’s hosting of the SEA Games to be a special one but at the least cost possible.

"And okay na ang TV coverage ninyo ha," said the President a day after ordering the Department of Budget to settle the country’s obligations to the International Olympic Committee incurred during the 2000 Sydney Games, paving the way for NBN 4’s exclusive coverage of the RP participation in Athens.

"Thank you very much Mrs. President," Elizalde replied.

The President was also reminded that the last time the Philippines hosted the SEA Games in 1991, the country was also under a woman president in Corazon Aquino. The country won 91 gold medals and just came up one short of overall champion Indonesia with 92. She just nodded.

The country would need around P1 billion to host the SEA Games with the national government, as in previous experiences, shouldering the bulk of the expenses which include renovations of sports venues, training of the athletes, and the actual running of the games to be attended by thousand of foreign athletes and officials.

Aside from Gabito and Geisler, the other athletes present were Tshomlee Go and Marie Antoinette Riveros of taekwondo, Jethro Dionisio of shooting, Timmy Chua of swimming and Jasmine Figueroa of archery. They came in their deep red training suits and were just as thrilled having met the President days before their departure for Athens.

Marathoner Eduardo Buenavista was still in Baguio while the eight other athletes are already out of the country. They are Harry Tañamor, Violito Payla, Romeo Brin and Chris Camat of boxing, and Miguel Molina, Miguel Mendoza, JB Walsh and Jaclyn Pangilinan of swimming.

"Just to have qualified to the Olympics is already a great achievement and we should be very proud of our athletes. For now on, they’ll be facing top, world-class competition and we wish them the best of luck. With a little luck, who knows what can happen there," Elizalde added.

The President also presented the Philippine flag to Hontiveros, the RP chief of mission to Athens. — With reports from Marichu Villanueva

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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