DOLPHINS  SEEK  NCAA  TITLE  REPEAT  VS.  KNIGHTS

MANILA, September 21, 2005 
(STAR) By Joey Villar - With momentum and psychological edge on their side, the Philippine Christian U Dolphins go for the kill versus the embattled Letran Knights in Game Two of their NCAA best-of-three title duel at the Araneta Coliseum today.

"Game One would mean nothing if we can’t win another game," said coach Junel Baculi vowing to get his Dolphins work harder since the Knights are expected to come back strong to force a sudden-death in the short title series.

The Dolphins were swept by the Knights in two games in the elimination round but moved on the verge of a successful title defense with a stirring 79-74 win in the series opener Monday at the Big Dome.

Baculi and his boys go for the championship at 4 p.m.

The San Sebastian Staglets likewise seek to end their title hunt in the junior division against the San Beda Red Cubs at 2 p.m. The Staglets beat the Red Cubs, 83-76, Monday.

Jason Castro could be a marked man for the Knights after the 20-year-old Guagua, Pampanga native erupted for 21 points and fuelled a strong windup by the Dolphins Monday.

"We just couldn’t stop him," said coach Louie Alas whose Knights set out for the finals the favorites after dominating the eliminations with 13 wins against a lone defeat.

"We’ll make it more difficult for him in Game Two," Alas said.

But Baculi expects to get lift from other players after his reserve guard stole the thunder in Game One.

"We know they’ll be clamping on him (Castro) so we have to make plays that would make life easier for him. This means the other guys must step up," said Baculi.

PCU main man Gabby Espinas scored 20 points but was virtually reduced to a cheerleader in the sideline after moving out on fouls with 6:44 left in the contest. Also fouling out early in the game were fellow front liners Joel Solis and Carlos Cecilia.

"Unnecessary fouls almost killed us so we have to avoid these without compromising our defense," Baculi said.

Four teams fancied to slug it out in PBA Cup
The Philippine Star 09/21/2005

Four teams are the consensus choice of coaches as top favorites to win the championship of the season-opening PBA Fiesta Cup.

Defending champion San Miguel, Talk ‘N Text, Alaska and Barangay Ginebra are among the squads consistently mentioned by the nine league coaches in an impromptu survey made on them during their appearance in yesterday’s special session of the PSA Forum at the main function room of the Pantalan Restaurant in Manila.

"Kapag nakita mo `yung lineup nung apat, nakakatakot," said Sta. Lucia mentor Alfrancis Chua in the public sports program sponsored by Red Bull, Circure, Supermax, PAGCOR and Manila Mayor Lito Atienza.

"I agree with the rest," Red Bull’s Yeng Guiao said. "Add my vote to them."

Apart from the two, the other coaches present in the same forum were Joel Banal (Talk ‘N Text), Jong Uichico (San Miguel), Tim Cone (Alaska), Siot Tanquingcen (Brgy. Ginebra), Ryan Gregorio (Purefoods Chunkee), Bo Perasol (Air21) and Binky Favis (Coca-Cola).

Off-season dealings by both Talk ‘N Text and Alaska easily installed them as early picks to dominate the import-laden conference while San Miguel and Ginebra are bringing back the same core that bagged all three titles at staked in the 2004-05 season.

But while they may be strong on papers, Banal reminded that winning a championship would still depend on the kind of import teams would get.

"Gusto nga sana namin All-Filipino agad," said the lanky mentor, whose team got an added boost with the acquisition of top rookie picks Anthony Washington and Mac Cardona. "But this is an import-flavored tournament, so everything would depend on them (import)."

Talk ‘N Text is bringing in old reliable Damien Cantrell, who played for the team two years ago. Another familiar face in Tee McClary, the same import who guided the Coca-Cola Tigers to the 2003 Reinforced Conference title, is also making a comeback and will play for Alaska

"We’re just lucky to have Tee come here earlier and played some games with us overseas," said Cone of the import who was with the Aces when they finished runner up behind the RP national team during the Shell Cup invitational tournament held in Brunei.

San Miguel tapped the services of Rico Hill, a 6-foot-6 forward from Illinois State, in the hope of adding fresh legs to an ageing Beermen roster.

"We’re not getting any younger. Olsen is now 34 and the team’s average age is around 29," Uichico admitted.

Purefoods is also looking at the same philosophy, reason why Gregorio opted for an import fresh out of college in Marquin Chandler.

"We’re currently in a rebuilding process. So hopefully, Marquin, being fresh from college, would bring us that energy and youthful exuberance," said the Giants’ youthful mentor.

Perasol is hinging the Express’ campaign on Shawn Daniels, Guiao on former De Paul stalwart Quemont Greer, Favis on Alex Carcamo and Tanquigncen on Mustapha Hoff.

"But I’d say our team would just be in the middle of the pack," said Tanquingcen, whose Kings would continue to miss the services of league MVP Eric Menk as the 6-foot-5 center has yet to complete his citizenship documents.

"So everything is status quo for us at the moment as far as Eric is concerned," said the soft-spoken Ginebra mentor

Sta. Lucia is the only team still without an import with less than two weeks before the season officially begins on Oct. 2 at the Araneta Coliseum.

"Pinauwi na namin," Chua said of high school phenom Lenny Cooke, the former Purefoods import still recovering from a serious knee injury he suffered in a major car mishap in the US.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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