MANILA, JUNE 2, 2006 (STAR) The Philippines, with GM Joey Antonio sustaining his fine form and GM Mark Paragua regaining his winning ways, scored an expected romp over Malaysia, 3.5-0.5, to regain a share of 17th place even as the RP ladies continued to dish out big games after 10 rounds of the World Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy Wednesday.

Antonio overwhelmed Jonathan Chuah on board 3 to lead the siege of the Filipino bets against the unfancied Malaysians and notch his sixth point in eight games to remain the best performer in the six-man squad.

Paragua erased the stigma of his setback to GM Dieter Liviu Nisipeanu of Romania Tuesday by thumping Hafizulhelmi Mas on the top board while FM Oliver Dimakiling likewise bounced back from an earlier setback to topple Bakri Anas.

GM Eugene Torre failed to complete a shutout win for RP as he was held to a draw by FM Lim Yee Weng on board 2.

Still, the victory enabled the Philippines to jump from joint 35th to a share of 17th going into the crucial last three rounds of the biennial event. Joining RP and the Netherlands in 17th place are Germany, Spain, Iran, Greece and Poland.

The climb to a dream top 10 finish begins Friday when the Filipinos take on an all-GM the Netherlands, which clobbered Indonesia, 3-1, Wednesday.

The event takes its second and last break Thursday with the Filipino bets hoping to come up with a strong finishing kick in the last three rounds in a bid to barge into the Top 10.

"If we score 8 points in the last three rounds, we’ll be able to make it to top 10," said RP team captain Sammy Estimo.

Against the Dutch, led by GM Ivan Sokolov, the RP bets are expected to retain its 10th round team with Antonio out to keep his unblemished slate against fellow GM Loek Van Wely.

Not to be outdone, the RP ladies blanked unranked Albania, 3-0, to likewise move up to joint 18th from a share of 37th.

Catherine Perena, Sherily Cua and Beverly Mendoza whipped Eglantina Shabanaj, Roela Pasku and Alda Shabanaj, respectively, to give the Philippines a 17.5 total in a tie with Lithuania, Germany, Belarus, Vietnam, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Ecuador and Sweden.

Lithuania will be RP’s 11th round opponent with the Filipinas vowing to go flat out to upend their 13th-ranked rivals, who are reeling from a 0.5-3.5 setback to Greece.

Ukraine swamped Georgia, 2-1, to remain on top of the women’s division with 23 points while Russia pooled 22.5 points after a similar 2-1 victory over Bulgaria.

China also posted a 2-1 win over Armenia to stay in third place with 20.5 points.

In men’s play. Armenia stopped China’s amazing surge with a 2.5-1.5 victory to post a two-point lead over its victim. GM Vladimir Akopian provided the lone win for Armenia as he downed GM Zhang Zhong on board 2.

Russia beat Ukraine, 3-1, to share third place with Czech Republic with 26.5 points. The Czechs routed Slovenia, 3.5-0.5. — Dante Navarro

The miracle worker SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson The Philippine Star 06/02/2006

It was difficult to imagine Barangay Ginebra beating Talk ‘N’ Text in a Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) wildcard game at the Big Dome last Wednesday.

Kings coach Siot Tanquingcen’s lineup was so depleted that someone suggested team manager Allan Caidic to come out of retirement and suit up. Dressed in civvies, sitting behind the bench, were Ginebra’s walking Wounded–Rodney Santos, Andy Seigle, Romel Adducul (in crutches), Mike Holper and Aris Dimaunahan.

Forced to play in pain was Eric Menk, due for surgery to remove bone spurs in his heel at the end of the conference. He sat out two games to rest his aching foot and was reactivated for the last four games of the double-round classifications to prepare him for the playoffs.

The players weren’t the only ones injured.

Tanquingcen himself wasn’t in the pink. At halftime of Ginebra’s game against Alaska last May 24, he punched the wall in the dressing room in exasperation and fractured his right hand. Tanquingcen was fuming over what he felt was a foul that wasn’t called on Jay-Jay Helterbrand’s buzzer-beating triple to end the second period.

For the Talk ‘N’ Text outing last Wednesday, Tanquingcen showed up with his right hand heavily bandaged.

Then came the tip to start the game.

As expected, Tanquingcen went to his strength–the backcourt–and played racehorse basketball, never mind if the Kings were undermanned. He shuffled his players in and out of the game to sustain a dizzying pace. His idea was to dictate the tempo, taking away the Phone Pals’ rhythm in the process. Without a healthy dominant big man, Tanquingcen adjusted Ginebra’s offense to suit the players who could deliver. He prescribed a push-it-up style, motion in the halfcourt, high pick-and-rolls to create mismatches and open situations, a scrambling defense, zone variations and all-court hustle.

Tanquingcen’s plan worked like a charm and Ginebra pulled off a major upset in scoring a 108-96 win, crushing Talk ‘N’ Text’s hopes of advancing to the quarterfinals.

* * *

Mark Caguioa, as usual, led the charge and poured in 32 points, including 16-of-20 free throws. He’s the league’s No. 1 scorer and there’s nobody more explosive in attacking the rim. Helterbrand backed him up with 15 points.

The stats sheet revealed how Ginebra did it. The Kings had more fastbreak points, 15-4, turnover points, 23-13, steals, 8-4 and free throw conversions, 31-20. Ginebra also shot a higher clip from the floor, .432 to 366.

Curiously, seven Ginebra players logged at least 20 minutes compared to only four from Talk ‘N’ Text and the Phone Pals were supposed to enjoy the advantage in depth. Ginebra’s bench contributed 39 points to the Phone Pals’ 21.

"The guys just refused to quit," said Caidic. "It was so inspiring. Everybody stepped up. It was like our second game against Talk ‘N’ Text in the classification round. Eric couldn’t play but we still won, 124-121. Give it to the players–they didn’t want to disappoint Ginebra’s fans."

Tanquingcen is slowly gaining a reputation as a miracle worker. Ginebra has now won back-to-back games over Red Bull and Talk ‘N’ Text, a pair of powerhouse teams. And the Kings are headed for a showdown with Air21 for the last quarterfinals berth.

In last Wednesday’s game, unlikely heroes produced big numbers for Ginebra and Tanquingcen couldn’t be prouder.

Free agent pick-up Allan Salangsang, 29, came off the bench to score a career-high 14 points, including 3-of-5 triples, in 20 minutes. His feet hardly leave the floor when he fires a trey–which only means he generates his strength for the set shot almost exclusively from the wrist and arm, not from the legs. Salangsang was Tanduay’s third round pick in the 2000 draft and played in four games for Talk ‘N’ Text last conference, failing to score a single point. He averaged 2.8 points and 9.7 minutes for the Phone Pals in the 2004-05 season.

Manny Ramos, 24, was Coca-Cola’s second round choice in the 2004 draft, the 19th of 27 players picked. The 6-5 1/2 center averaged 1.1 points, 1.2 rebounds and 5.7 minutes in 15 games for the Tigers in the 2004-05 season. Ramos didn’t even play in the last conference and was rescued from oblivion by Ginebra when Seigle went down.

Last Wednesday, Ramos played heroically and collected eight points, three rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot in 18 solid minutes.

* * *

Ervin Sotto, 24, was Purefoods’ first round pick in the 2004 draft. He played one conference for Purefoods then was traded to Shell before landing in Ginebra. In the last conference, the 6-5 slotman averaged 1.4 points and 5.1 minutes in 14 games. Last Wednesday, Sotto hit seven points and grabbed three rebounds in 17 minutes.

Mark Macapagal, 26, was Talk ‘N’ Text’s second round and final pick in last year’s draft. The former San Sebastian guard never made it to the Phone Pals roster and was signed by Ginebra as a free agent last conference where he averaged 2.5 points and 9.7 minutes in 23 games. Last Wednesday, he tallied 10 points, including 2-of-3 triples.

Egay Echavez, 29, was ignored in the 2003 draft where the top picks included Mike Cortez, Adducul, Harvey Carey and Jimmy Alapag. The 5-10 spitfire played six forgettable outings for Purefoods in 2003, bounced from one bush league to another and returned to the PBA via Ginebra in the 2004-05 season where he averaged 2.5 points and 12.5 minutes in 20 games. Echavez hit at a 1.5 clip in two games last conference.

Last Wednesday, he provided some relief for Helterbrand at the quarterback position and produced two points on 2-of-4 free throws in four minutes.

Kalani Ferreria, 27, also did his share last Wednesday, collecting two points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes as a starter. Last conference, he averaged 3.1 points and 13.3 minutes in 13 games for Ginebra. Ferreria, nicknamed the X-Man, was FedEx? fourth round pick in 2003 as the 30th of 40 players drafted.

Sunday Salvacion, 27, played hurt like Menk and still netted six points in 20 minutes. Menk compiled 12 points and 11 rebounds in 28 minutes.

* * *

Four teams are seeing action in the wildcard series that began last Wednesday. The top finisher will advance to the quarterfinals. Sta. Lucia Realty (4-13) and Talk ?N? Text (6-11) are now out of contention for a quarterfinals ticket because neither will be able to reach nine wins. They would’ve been eligible for a playoff, regardless of their carryover records, with a sweep of their wildcard assignments but that option went out the window with the Realtors? loss to Air 21 and the Phone Pals? defeat to Ginebra last Wednesday.

Still in the hunt are Air21 (8-9) and Ginebra (8-9)––at least one of the two teams will reach nine wins after they play each other. The Express faces Talk ?N? Text and Ginebra takes on Sta. Lucia in tonight’s twinbill. On Sunday, it will be Talk ?N? Text versus Sta. Lucia and Ginebra against Air21.

The lone wildcard survivor will meet Red Bull in a best-of-5 quarterfinal series with the winner to play San Miguel Beer in a best-of-7 semifinal pairing. Alaska and Coca-Cola will slug it out in the other best-of-5 quarterfinal series with the winner to play Purefoods in the semifinals.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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