LAS VEGAS, January 24, 2006
(MALAYA) Mexican claims he has nothing but respect for Pacquiao.

TWO days after absorbing the worst beating in his great career at the hands of Manny Pacquiao, Erik Morales offered no excuses, saying he ran into "a guy with a lot of ambition who wanted to win very much" and added he had "nothing but respect for Pacquiao."

Morales, who returned to his San Diego home on Monday (Tuesday in Manila), added Pacquiao "was in great condition and was obviously well prepared to fight me.

"It was a very tough intense, fight. I think I had some good moments early, but was getting very tired as the fight was going in the later rounds. I have nothing but respect for Pacquiao, he’s a good person and he beat me, you won’t hear any excuses from me," Morales told the boxing website

Pacquiao, 27, decked Morales twice in the 10th round at the Thomas and Mack Center last Sunday and won by technical knockout at the 2:33 mark, handing the Mexican his first loss by stoppage.

Morales said he was taken to a hospital after the fight "to make sure that I was alright and everything came out fine." He said he is now looking forward to getting some rest and spending some time with his wife (Andrea)" who is due to give birth to their first child (a boy) next month.

Meanwhile, Shelly Finkel, Pacquiao’s manager, said the Filipino ring hero would gladly face Morales in a third fight if the Mexican wants it but stressed the top pick should be world super featherweight champion Marco Antonio Barrera.

"Logically, unless there’s something else, we’d go after Marco Antonio Barrera. But we will honor the contract if Morales wants it," Finkel told the website

A clause in the contract of last Sunday’s fight stipulates a rematch if Pacquiao wins but even Morales seemed not too keen on another fight.

Pacquiao himself said he believes Morales will bounce back soon.

"I think he can come back," said Pacquiao. "He has a lot of time, maybe three years more."

Morales himself said he will take a little time out to think about his plans, and that his team is behind him fully.

"Bob Arum and Top Rank have given me their unconditional support as they always have. Now I will take some time off and think about what my next move will be," Morales said.

Ginebra prepares for Red Bull fightback BY NOLI CORTEZ -MALAYA

Games Today (Araneta Coliseum) 4:40 p.m. – Ginebra vs. Red Bull 7:35 p.m. – Purefoods vs. Air21

RIDING the momentum of an 105-100 overtime win last Sunday, Ginebra seeks a big follow-up today when it takes on Red Bull anew in Game 2 of their San Mig Coffee-PBA Fiesta Conference best-of-seven semifinals showdown at the Araneta Coliseum.

Kings coach Siot Tanquingcen, while expecting the Bulls to come up with modifications in their plays, said "it is now up to us to come up with a winning formula again."

Tanquingcen uttered those words after his team completely stymied Red Bull’s league-best fast-breaking game last Sunday, taking away some 16 points from the Bulls.

"We believe the fastbreak is one of the major keys in Red Bull’s offense, that’s why we tried our best to limit them," said Tanquingcen.

The Kings managed to carve out the win despite the absence of Andy Seigle (torn ACL) and the disqualification on fouls by import Chris Porter after just 21 minutes of action.

"With Chris fouling out and our big men in foul trouble, plus the loss of Andy…. all those shortened our rotation, made us more vulnerable," Tanquingcen noted.

Eric Menk, however, came up with 25 points and eight rebounds despite extended minutes, Mark Caguioa notched 22 and nine and Romel Adducul had 16 and 12 while Rodney Santos and Jayjay Helterbrand did the yeoman’s chores in the extra period.

"That’s why I really have to give credit to the players. Despite the fouls and injuries, they all stepped up. Talagang ang toughness nila is unquestionable," said Tanquingcen.

A tougher match is similarly expected by Purefoods Chunkee when it also guns for a 2-0 lead against Air21 in the nightcap.

The Giants escaped with a 94-89 win last Sunday and coach Ryan Gregorio said charges should match the Express’ energy and emotional plays.

One nagging concern for Gregorio is how to prevent Air21’s offense, anchored on import Shawn Daniels, from gaining steam. Daniels had 15 points and 17 rebounds but just three assists in Game 1.

Still, Gregorio knows Daniels will always be a big threat.

"Everything in their offense starts with Daniels. With his inside presence, everything opens up for them," said Gregorio. "We have to do our own adjustments on him because I know they will."

Giants import Marquin Chandler tied a conference-high 46 points to go with 16 rebounds, but Gregorio knows the Express defense will do a better job today.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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