JANUARY 15, 2007
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - Florencio Campomanes, who knows Philippine chess like the back of his hand, has welcomed the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) move investigating players allegedly involved in game-fixing.

"Itís a virus. And the only way to excise it or at least contain it is with an iron hand," said the 79-year-old honorary president of FIDE, the international chess federation.

"And itís a good thing that the NCFP president, Butch Pitchay, is hands-on on this. Otherwise, whatís the use of all these tournaments, programs and policies of our generous chess president?" Campomanes said.

"But let us hope that the remedy here is not punitive. It could be the reforming of these individuals if they are ready to reform. Before we hold another big tournament, this has to be cleared," he added.

Allegations that some big-name players are involved in game-fixing or networking came out a week ago, leading to an NCFP investigation, more charges and a lot of denials from the those being accused.

But Campomanes said the air should be cleared as soon as possible because there are players, who are "clean and honest" that are also suffering.

"The rumors tend to be exaggerated and when it happens everyone falls suspect. And this is unfair. We have good, well-behaved players in the chess community," he said.

"And how would the public view this? Of course there will be some knee-jerking. Of course thereís hope for a fresh start. Butch Pichay has the courage of his words and heís calling a spade a spade.

"Heís coming to grips with the problem and Iím certain that he will lay down the rule on the culprits. If there are any," said Campomanes, who remembers suspending three local players in the past for the same thing.

Sta. Lucia tougher than Red Bull By Nelson Beltran The Philippine Star 01/15/2007

Sta. Lucia Realty is tired physically but super healthy mentally.

Riding an emotional high following a bailout win over Air21 Friday, Sta. Lucia drubbed Red Bull, 96-89, in Game One of their Talk n Text PBA Philippine Cup best-of-five quarterfinals match at the Araneta Coliseum last night.

Paolo Mendoza fired five triples and scored a game-high 19 points, Alex Cabagnot churned out a rare double-double with 16 points and 10 assists while Kelly Williams made 17 points and nine rebounds in leading the highly-charged Realtors past a Red Bull side appearing to get rusty following a three-week rest.

"Yes, weíre tired physically. But our mind and hearts are healthy," said Sta. Lucia coach Alfrancis Chua.

"Our stint in the wildcard round may be Godís will. Sabi siguro niya hindi pa kami ready kaya binagyan pa kami ng extra games before playing in the quarterfinals," Chua added.

But getting five extra games after missing outright quarters passage seemed to really toughen up the Realtors who got off to a strong start and completed a wire-to-wire win over the Bulls.

They did that minus Kenneth Duremdes and with Dennis Espino and Marlou Aquino playing limited minutes due to injuries.

"Itís Godís blessing we have young legs who can play extended minutes," said Chua. "If we can make it two in a row, it could be really our destiny."

Duremdes, who suffered a dislocated left pinky, is tipped to return to play Wednesday as the Realtors go for a pivotal two-game-to-nil lead over the Bulls.

Red Bull coach Yeng Guiao, however, said their confidence remains high.

"(Did we become rusty?) Obviously we did. At least weíre over that. Our second half was a lot better. We hope to play that way Wednesday and the rest of the series," said Guiao.

The Bulls did pick up their game after falling behind by 28 at halftime but ran out of time in their comeback bid.

They narrowed the gap at 66-81 at the end of the third and came closest at 87-92 and 89-94 before yielding the game just the same in the end.

Rallying within 87-92 on a seven-to-nothing run by Mick Pennisi, Larry Fonacier and Junthy Valenzuela, Red Bull had a chance to come even closer but Fonacierís three-point attempt rimmed out.

At 94-89, Sta. Lucia saw Valenzuela miss another three-point try then Espino score on a fastbreak in the ensuing play as the Realtors eventually sealed the win.

"I guess we have to pay the price for having such a long break. But our confidence remains high," said Guiao.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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