MANILA, MAY 29, 2006 (STAR) The young turks took the cudgels for the Philippines by pulling off three victories to make up for the sorry loss of GM Eugene Torre on the top board as RP posted a 3-1 win over Ecuador to gain a share of 30th place at resumption of the World Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy Saturday.

Wesley So, 12, outwitted IM Plinio Pazos after 60 moves of a Modern Defense to cap the Filipinos’ victory after fellow FM Oliver Dimakiling and Darwin Laylo bested IM Palau Mieles and Miguel Medina, respectively.

But the Filipinos, seeded 35th in a field of 146, failed to score an expected sweep over their 59th ranked rivals as Torre lost to fellow GM Franco Matamoros.

The win shoved RP to joint 30th with 15.5 points in the company of Iceland, Germany, Croatia, England, Norway, Peru, Colombia, Switzerland and Malaysia.

The Philippines next faces 27th-seed Iceland, which lost to 45th-ranked Indonesia, 1.5-2.5.

Armenia surged ahead with 18 points after a 2.5-1.5 win over Uzbekistan and will test the mettle of the Netherlands in the seventh round Sunday.

The Dutch shocked the top-seeded Russians, 2.5-1.5, on a victory by Friso Nijboer over fellow GM Sergey Rublevskiy on board 4 as they took solo second with 17.5 points. Russia slid to third with 17 in a tie with Belarus, which clobbered Spain, 3-1.

The Filipina chessers bowed to Belarus with Sherily Cua saving the team from a shutout loss by halving the point with WIM Anna Sharevich.

The loss dropped the RP ladies to 50th place with 9 points in a tie with nine others, including seventh round opponent Finland.

Russia kept its lead in women’s play with a 2-1 victory over Hungary for 14.5 points. Ukraine edged Spain, 2-1, to hike its output to 14 points.

Purefoods uneasy at the top By Joaquin Henson The Philippine Star 05/29/2006

Purefoods finished the double-round classifications at the top of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) standings and earned an outright ticket to the semifinals but coach Ryan Gregorio said yesterday the Chunkee Giants are far from wallowing in a comfort zone.

After posting a 12-4 record, the Giants took a one-week break and return to the gym today. They’ll sit out the wildcard series and the quarterfinals before plunging back to action in the semifinals.

"We can’t be comfortable where we are because we haven’t achieved anything yet," said Gregorio. "Making it to the semifinals outright was just the first part of our goal. Now, our objective is to play in the finals."

Gregorio said the long wait is an advantage. "We’ll get our injured players back and they’ll be raring to compete again," added Gregorio, referring to Kerby Raymundo, Jun Limpot and Noy Castillo who’ve missed a combined 10 games. "The players who had extensive minutes because of our shortened rotation will be rested, too."

If there’s a team he’d rather not face in the semifinals, it’s Red Bull.

"There’s the stigma of losing to Red Bull in the finals last conference and they match up very well against us," said Gregorio. "They have size and quickness."

To win the title, Gregorio said the Giants must keep their focus on defense, stay healthy and play with a winning attitude, no matter the odds.

"When I coached in college, our team used to limit our opponents to 80 points in a 40-minute game," he said. "Now, we’re holding our opponents to less than 80 in a 48-minute game and we’re winning. As a salesman, I think I’ve sold the philosophy of defense to the guys. We play defense first before offense. We can’t challenge other teams in a shootout because we lack firepower. We’d rather get a 24-second violation instead of giving up a layup on the other end. We count our stops, not our points. If we miss, we go back and make a stop. It’s all about execution on both ends."

Purefoods leads the league in defense, steals and free throw shooting but is last in offense, assists and three-point shooting.

"We don’t have a dominant big man but we just condition our minds to believe we can win despite the absence of a legitimate center," said Gregorio. "We can’t wait for a big man to step in. We don’t have the luxury of time. If we’re not tall, we’ll just be quicker. We can never stop guys like Dorian (Peña) and Asi (Taulava) with single coverage so we just double and rotate. We don’t dwell on our weakness. We dwell on our strengths."

Gregorio said he’s lucky his players are well-motivated and like playing with each other.

"Jun (Limpot) has played several years in the PBA but he’s enjoying playing for our team the most," continued Gregorio. "The three things that characterize a Purefoods player are respect, discipline and love. I have no qualms about hugging my players. I love all of them. Aside from the players, we’re blessed with excellent assistant coaches whom I know will someday be head coaches in the PBA. Koy (Banal) is our defensive coach. Ronnie (Magsanoc) takes care of our zone offense and press break, among others. And Dayong (Mendoza) is in charge of breaking down video."

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved