PCU DOLPHINS PUT TITLE ON LINE AS NCAA BEGINS

MANILA, June 26, 2005 
(MALAYA) BY CHRISTINE MONCADA - Games Today (Araneta Coliseum) 1 p.m. – Opening ceremony 2 p.m. – SBC vs. PCU 4 p.m. - Perpetual vs. Letran 6 p.m. - SSC vs. Mapua 7:30 p.m. - JRU vs. St. Benilde

PHILIPPINE Christian University takes on San Beda as it sets in motion its title-retention bid in the 81st National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament starting today at the Araneta Coliseum.

Although the Dolphins will play without coach Ato Tolentino, who steered PCU to its first ever championship last season since the team joined the league in 1998, prospects still look good for the Dolphins who will play with an intact core.

Junel Baculi, winner of six titles in the PBL, will now call the shots for the team and is confident of his squad’s chances but knows it won’t be a walk in the park.

"I’m really excited to coach this team which has the potential to repeat as champion," said Baculi.

"One thing going for us is that we have an intact line up, this is practically the same core that won the championship last year. But I told my players that it’s going to be tough so we have to work together, play hard and stay focused in every game," said Baculi.

Perpetual, last year’s losing finalist, tackles host Letran College while San Sebastian clashes with Mapua. Jose Rizal University squares off with last season’s tailender College of Saint Benilde in the nightcap.

The multi-titled Baculi is hoping Gabby Espinas, the league’s first-ever Rookie-MVP, would deliver the goods anew and that his aggressiveness would rub off on Robert Sanz, last year’s Most Improved Player Ian Vincent Garrido, Jason Castro and Ramon Retaga Jr.

Like Baculi, 29-year-old coach Caloy Garcia and the CSB Blazers are hoping their experience in the PBL would help them in their quest for the NCAA title.

Garcia recently steered Welcoat Paints, which has five Blazers in its roster, to the Philippine Basketball League 2005 Unity Cup over Montana Pawnshop.

"Almost all the teams are equally talented. It’s just a matter of who wants to win. College basketball is more of a running game, so I told my players to stay focused," said Garcia, a former Blazer.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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