PBA  OPENS  'REINFORCED  CONFERENCE'  TOMORROW

MANILA, March 3, 2005 
(STAR) By Nelson Beltran  -  After a brief break, the Philippine Basketball Association re-opens shop with the start of the Reinforced Conference tomorrow, featuring Sta. Lucia Realty versus Coca-Cola and San Miguel Beer against Alaska at the Philsports Arena.

Recent All-Filipino champion Barangay Ginebra and runner-up Talk n Text begin their campaigns Sunday as the Kings take on the Red Bull Barako Thunder at the Araneta Coliseum while the Phone Pals clash with the Shell Turbochargers in the league’s first-ever official game abroad in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The Pals and the Turbochargers depart for the Indonesian capital Saturday.

"Just about every basketball fan in the city is going gaga about the coming weekend match," said Agnus Mauro, Indonesian Basketball League commissioner and organizer of the event.>

Aside from the Jakarta visit, a record number of 23 out-of-town games are in store in the season-ending tourney which marks the return of the giants in the league following the non-imposition of height restriction for imports.

Four new imports will be introduced right on opening day with Sta. Lucia coming out with Richard Jetter in tow, Coca-Cola showing up with Jaja Richards, Alaska Milk playing with Leon Derricks and San Miguel banking on Chris Burgess.

Other imports in the fold are ex-Los Angeles Clipper Eric Chenowith (7-foot-1) for Shell, 6-foot-9 Anthony Miller for FedEx, 6-foot-10 Darlon Johnson for Red Bull Barako, 6-foot-10 1/2 Earl Ike for Talk n Text and 6-foot-9 Edner Elisma for Ginebra.

Of the four teams playing tomorrow, the Beermen had the highest finish in the All-Filipino at third behind the Kings and the Phone Pals. However, San Miguel is returning short-handed with Danny Ildefonso still recovering from a recent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

But Alaska could also be undermanned since the team has yet to solve its problem with slotman Don Allado. The former La Salle standout wants out of the team.

Rafi Reavis is a doubtful starter for the Tigers who are now under interim head coach Eric Altamirano in lieu of national mentor Chot Reyes.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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