ROXAS CITY, APRIL 24, 2006 (STAR) Purefoods struggled three-fourths of the way but came up with a strong finishing kick to beat Alaska Milk, 69-64, in their out-of-town tussle in the Gran Matador Brandy PBA Philippine Cup at the Capiz Gymnasium in Roxas City, Capiz last night.

The Chunkee Giants whipped up a storm at endgame behind a resolute defense and a transition offensive game for its first win on the road in this all-Filipino tourney. They suffered a numbing 66-88 loss to the Talk n Text Phone Pals early in the tourney.

Coming through with a follow-up on their 79-75 win over the Coca-Cola Tigers Wednesday, the Giants gained solo second place in the standings with a 7-3 win-loss card, just a game behind the pacesetting San Miguel Beermen at 8-2.

Alaska, meanwhile, continued to flounder on the road and slid to joint sixth place with Red Bull with identical 4-6 records. The Uytengsu franchise has lost 14 of its last 16 out-of-town games dating back to 2003.

It was a heart-rending defeat for the Aces who took control almost throughout only to sag and collapse in the homestretch.

Alaska never scored a basket again after Don Allado canned in a charity to tie the count at 64-all with 1:57 left to play.

The Giants put the cuffs on the Aces at the finish and went to Noy Castillo and Kerby Raymundo for the killer points.

Castillo shattered the 64-all deadlock with two charities, then after James Yap stole a crucial Alaska possession, Raymundo banged in a perimeter shot as the Giants stretched their lead to four with time down to 44 seconds.

Raymundo, who led all scorers with 14 points, also had four blocks, including one he made against Sonny Thoss in the closing seconds.

Castillo finished with 13 points and seven rebounds while Yap closed out with 12 points.

Curiously, the Giants continued to avoid a 600th loss in franchise history. Purefoods is one of four clubs to have played over 1,000 games in the league.

Green and bear it SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson The Philippine Star 04/23/2006

The University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) unanimous decision to suspend La Salle for a year, starting this coming season, in all sports was hardly unexpected.

Although there were rumblings that La Salle would be allowed to play on probation or only its basketball program would be suspended as the school had earlier requested for a leave of absence, nobody was surprised when the Board swung the executionerís axe.

Leaking the information that it couldíve been a two-year suspension instead was no consolation. And the extraordinarily long period of investigation before arriving at the decision was no consolation either even as it appeared to indicate an exhaustive probe and lots of soul-searching and sleepless nights.

It was clear that as soon as La Salle voluntarily admitted the recruitment of two academically ineligible players in its seniors varsity basketball roster the last three years, the Archers were goners.

For opening its mouth, La Salle was dealt a blow to the heart. For being honest, La Salle shot itself in the foot. For cleaning house, La Salle was suspended because if not, it wouldíve opened a Pandoraís box and encouraged other schools to be as transparentĖand in a league where you can be sure of skeletons in the closet, the unwritten code is to keep quiet at all costs.

I wonder if those who cast the first stones at La Salle can look at themselves in the mirror without cringing in shame.

To appeal the suspension would be a futile exercise for La Salle.

Never mind if under the UAAP rules, the only basis for suspension is complicity of the school and La Salle was cited for negligence.

Never mind if suspension in all sports does not seem to be a commensurate penalty for the "crime" of negligence.

Never mind if La Salle was never sent a charge sheet signed by an accusing school, as required by Board rules, and never given a chance to defend itself.

Never mind if due process was not administered.

Never mind if the innocent players in other sports will be penalized by such a sweeping suspension.

Never mind if the guiltless, graduating athletes in other sports will not be allowed their swan song because of a decision that appears heartless, harsh and inappropriate.

Never mind if La Salle volunteered the damaging information, without provocation, and was not caught hiding the truth by an external party.

Never mind if other schools that may uncover ineligible athletes in their rosters will now be inclined to sweep the dirt under the rug or else suffer a similar fate.

Never mind if the suspension is a direct attack at the integrity of a school of high repute.

Never mind if the standard penalty for using an ineligible player is the forfeiture of games and La Salle has, in fact, surrendered its championship trophy in 2004 and given up its second-place points in senior menís basketball, resulting in sliding from second to third place in the overall UAAP standings.

Never mind if the suspension questions the spirit of fair play in the UAAP Board.

Never mind if La Salle, by requesting a leave of absence from senior menís basketball, appealed to the conscience of the UAAP Board in its attempt to spare the innocent athletes from other sports and was denied.

Never mind if other schools may be involved in recruiting anomalies, such as not subjecting athletes to entrance exams, and are wallowing in their self-righteousness while appearing to be above suspicion like Caesarís wife.

Never mind if the UAAP Board is supposed to be composed of honorable men and women who believe in sportsmanship, upholding the rules of the league and justice for all.

The suspension delivers a wrong signal to schools that honesty isnít the best policy if ever they uncover recruitment anomalies involving varsity athletesĖthat if you get caught doing something illegal, too bad but if you donít get caught, itís fine.

Whether the decision was tainted by treachery or bias or injustice is something that can only be established by the UAAP Board in its heart of hearts.

One thingís for sure, a dark chapter has found its way in the UAAP history books. This was certainly not a positive milestone for the league.

Although La Salle president Bro. Armin Luistro has threatened to go all the way to the Supreme Court to fight the suspension, he should rethink his position. Taking court action will only aggravate the situation and put athletes in the middle of a political battle. It is as useless to appeal the suspension before the UAAP Board as it is to seek redress from the courts. The only sensible thing for La Salle to do is to grin and bear it and prepare for a spirited comeback in 2007-08.

La Salle can walk away from this harrowing experience with a clear conscience. Iím not sure if the executioners in the UAAP Board can do the same.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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