OCTOBER 6, 2006
(STAR) SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson - Alaska coach Tim Cone relished his presence in the press room after the Aces clobbered Coca-Cola, 99-84, in a Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) game at the Araneta Coliseum last Wednesday.

Reporters crowded around Cone as he held court, a reward for the win that got Alaska back on track after a season-opening loss to Red Bull in Guam.

In the preseason tournament, Alaska emerged as the only unbeaten team with a 5-0 record. The Aces beat Ginebra San Miguel, Purefoods, Welcoat and Air21 before edging San Miguel Beer, 128-126, in overtime for the title. The victory established Alaska as one of the teams to beat in the Philippine Cup. But alas, despite high expectations, Alaska crumbled in the leagueís first overseas outing this season. The Aces fell behind by 24 and never threatened as the Barakos breezed to a 99-93 decision on team consultant Andy Jaoís birthday last Thursday.

"Red Bull just shot the lights out," sighed Cone. "Mick (Pennisi) hit his first four three-pointers and Lordy (Tugade), his first three. Before we knew it, they were up by 20 and we were never able to catch up."

The final score was the closest the Aces came to within Red Bullís tally, said PBA stats chief Fidel Mangonon. Although Alaska had more rebounds and less turnovers, the Aces shot only .416 from the floor compared to Red Bullís .466 Ė including .421 from three-point distance.

After the game, Alaska team manager Joaqui Trillo arranged for a bonding exercise in a simulation of the popular TV reality show "Amazing Race." Chemistry is something that Cone said the Aces are still working to achieve, what with two rookies and newly-reacquired Poch Juinio in the fold and power forward Reynel Hugnatan out for the conference.

Whatever the Aces did in the Guam bonding exercise, it worked. Because against Coca-Cola, Alaska was unstoppable. The Aces got the job done on both ends with typical Cone-like efficiency.

In the press room, Cone spoke about his new hires Christian Luanzon and Aaron Aban.

"Christian is ahead of Aaron in terms of blending with the team because Aaron joined us only a week ago after finishing his commitments at Letran," said Cone. "Besides, Christian was introduced to the triangle when Aric (del Rosario) coached him at UST (University of Santo Tomas). I think Aaron has lots of potential. He has an incredible NBA-type of physique with a really small waistline and a muscular upper body. He could become a star in the PBA."

Aban, 24, was Alaskaís first round pick in the draft last August. Luanzon, 23, was the Acesí second round choice and 18th overall.

Cone said Hugnatan is now undergoing rehabilitation and will be back in uniform next conference. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Game 7 of the semifinal series against Purefoods last conference. Cone remarked that surprisingly, Hugnatan has lost seven pounds since suffering the injury Ė a testament to how hard heís working in the gym to get back in shape.

Cone noted that Tony de la Cruz has sacrificed his starting spot to give Eddie Laure a chance to regain his confidence coming from an injury. Laure started in the games against Red Bull and Coca-Cola. De la Cruz, however, logged 29 minutes off the bench and scored 22 points in Guam. He shot five points in 19 minutes against the Tigers.

Cone said Alaska couldíve played better last Wednesday. "We were on and off," he remarked. "What Iíd like is more consistency. If we turn it on and off, it could become a bad habit. We were in control of the game for three quarters then we let them back to within six in the fourth period before we turned it on again."

Cone said he was in Guam at the height of typhoon Milenyo that struck Metro Manila. He paid tribute to his wife Cristina for braving the storm and keeping their house in order.

"I wasnít there during the typhoon so Cristina had to go out and buy a small generator to work the pump that brings out the water from our basement," said Cone. "I admire her for what she did. When she went out to get the generator in the middle of the typhoon, she narrowly missed getting hit by a flying piece of wood. She was driving the car on the road when it happened. Luckily, power was restored in our area after a day."

* * *

UST coach Pido Jarencio said itís his policy never to argue with referees.

"Itís useless to debate with referees," said the UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines) champion coach. "Instead, I tell my players to do their best, earn the refereesí respect and donít give them a chance to make a bad call by playing right."

Jarencio said Ron Jacobs and Robert Jaworski were the coaches who influenced him most.

"Coach Ron taught me the importance of hard work and taking care of players," said Jarencio. "Iím also grateful to coach Sonny for giving me a long PBA career. I learned a lot of tricks from him and you knew he watched your back."

* * *

A source said Joey Lina is encountering difficulty within the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) ranks to support Philippine Long Distance Tel. Co. chairman Manny Pangilinanís offer to become chairman and president of the newly-organized unified body Samahang Basketbol Ng Pilipinas (SBP). The source intimated that the BAP is inclined to support Pangilinan as chairman and Lina as vice-chairman or president.

It was rumored that the BAP is campaigning for Lina as vice-chairman and Lito Alvarez as president. It was also rumored that some BAP quarters were wooing Sen. Jinggoy Estrada to replace Lina as BAP president. And still another rumor spread that Lina has offered to serve as SBP president for six months which he later reduced to three months in exchange for Pilipinas Basketball president Bernie Atienza as SBP executive director.

Atienza, a member of the three-man panel with Pangilinan and Lina tasked to pave the way for SBPís ascension, refused to comment on the rumors.

"There are rumors all over but we should not be distracted from what has to be done," he said. "We are setting aside personal ambitions and we are sacrificing for the countryís best interest. We are fortunate Mr. Pangilinan has agreed to lead us in the interim, to get us on the right track. The transitory Board has a job to do and there is so much to be done. Letís forget politics and intrigue. Letís just do what is best for basketball and our country."

Best of UAAP, NC clash for a cause The Philippine Star 10/06/2006

The seasonís best and brightest ó from Adamsonís Ken Bono to San Bedaís Sam Ekwe ó will be featured tomorrow in the Bantay Bata 163 All-Stars that will gather the top stars in the UAAP and NCAA at the Philsports Arena.

Bono, the UAAP Most Valuable Player awardee, will lead the varsity pack that includes Mythical First team members Jervy Cruz of victorious UST, JC Intal of Ateneo de Manila, Marvin Cruz of State U and Jeff Chan of Far Eastern U.

On the other hand, Ekwe, the Nigerian 6í8" behemoth who was this yearís rookie MVP for triumphant San Beda will spearhead the NCAA side along with teammate Yousif Aljamal, Jason Castro of PCU, Floyd Dedicatoria of Jose Rizal and Khiel Misa of Perpetual Help.

Pido Jarencio of UST will coach the UAAP selection while Koy Banal of San Beda the NCAA in the match set at 4 p.m.

Preceding the main match is the battle of the best high school players from both leagues set at 2 p.m.

Potit de Vera, who steered the FEU Baby Tams to the finals, will coach the UAAP in lieu of league champion Ateneo coach Jamike Jarin who is in the United States.

Raymond Valenzona of back-to-back NCAA winner San Sebastian High will mentor the other squad. And itís for a cause.

Proceeds for the one-day event will go to children of Bantay Bata 163, a foundation put up by television giant ABS-CBN to help needy kids.

Other members of the UAAP are Doug Kramer, Macky Escalona of Ateneo, Patrick Cabahug of Adamson, Jonas Villanueva of FEU, Edwin Asoro of National U, Marcy Arellano and Mark Borboran of University of the East and Jojo Duncil and Allan Evangelista of UST.

Completing the NCAA roster are Martin Urra of St. Benilde, Hafer Mondragon of Letran, Jerby del Rosario of Mapua, Ian Garrido of PCU, Alex Angeles, Pong Escobal, Ogie Menor and Riego Gamalinda of San Beda and Jim Viray of San Sebastian.

Ateneo will comprise the bulk of the UAAP led by MVP Raymond Austria and Mythical First Team member Mike Gamboa while rookie MVP Elvin Pascual of PCU and Finals MVP Ryan Buenafe of San Sebastian spearheads the NCAA.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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