MANILA, January 13, 2006
(STAR) Asi Taulava and Jimmy Alapag can well focus on Talk n Text’s bid for another title shot in the Philippine Basketball Association, having secured fresh juicy pacts with the Phone Pals worth P20.2 million.

Sources said Taulava was re-signed to P10.9 million and Alapag P9.3 million in separate deals – exclusive of bonuses and other perks – lasting up to July 2008.

Taulava will continue to receive the maximum monthly pay allowed in the league – now down to P350,000 from P500,000. Alapag, on the other hand, gets P300,000 a month.

The two Talk n Text stars are among players whose previous contracts expired last Dec. 31.

Forward Harvey Carey is another Talk n Text player who was signed to a new deal.

The Phone Pals plunge back into action in the San Mig Coffee Fiesta Cup tomorrow at the start of the quarterfinals against the winner of the San Miguel-Air21 wildcard duel.

Other players whose contracts were extended recently were Alaska’s Mike Cortez, Brandon Cablay and Stephen Padilla, Coca-Cola’s Billy Mamaril, Purefoods’ Noy Castillo, Mike Hrabak and Roger Yap, Red Bull’s Topex Robinson, Lordy Tugade, Junthy Valenzuela and Cyrus Baguio, Sta. Lucia’s Marlou Aquino, Paolo Mendoza and Adonis Sta. Maria, and Air21’s John Ferriols.

Most of them settled for a contract-extension only up to July with hopes of getting a better bargain afterwards. — Nelson Beltran

SMBeer, Air21 clash in sudden death today By Nelson Beltran The Philippine Star 01/13/2006

San Miguel Beer seeks to keep its title-retention bid alive while Air21 pursues its campaign for a breakthrough championship when they clash in sudden-death match in their San Mig Coffee PBA Fiesta Cup wildcard playoff at the Araneta Coliseum today.

It’s now or never for both teams in their battle for the right to meet Talk n Text in a best-of-five semifinals series. They play at 6 p.m. with the winner joining Talk n Text, Red Bull and Alaska Milk in the quarters while the loser kissing its title hopes goodbye.

Air21 nearly gained automatic entry into the semifinals on a strong showing in the classification phase but it’s now on equal footing with San Miguel after blowing what had looked like a won ballgame Wednesday.

The Beermen may even enjoy the edge in terms of momentum and mindset as they seek to follow up their 104-103 thriller of a win in Game Two.

With that in mind, Air21 coach Bo Perasol ordered shooting drills and perked up the spirit of his charges in a talk at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center inside the Ateneo campus yesterday .

Perasol, however, let his deputies to talk and motivate the Express since he was advised to take a full rest after being diagnosed for kidney stones Wednesday.

"If the other coaches have their hairlines receding, I’m suffering from so much stress. It first hit me when I was coaching the Surigao Miners in the MBA," said Perasol.

Perasol, however, is confident that he would be up and about for today’s game, having gotten shots of three different kinds of pain-killers.

But the Express may need some kind of resiliency to survive a battle-scarred champion team in the Beermen — owners of no less than 17 titles in the league

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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