FEBRUARY 9, 2007
(STAR) By Nelson Beltran - It may be a family affair but expect a fierce battle as Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel Beer start their best-of-seven showdown for the Talk n Text PBA Philippine Cup championship today at the Araneta Coliseum.

There were neither dagger looks nor heated exchange of words as some key members of both teams shared center table in a pre-final press conference yesterday at Emerald Restaurant. They even shared some light moments.

But coaches Chot Reyes and Jong Uichico and their respective troops insisted that won’t be the case when the corporate teams dispute the throne vacated by another SMC team, the Purefoods Chunkee Giants.

Ginebra and San Miguel clash in the opener of their title showdown immediately after the one-game battle for third place between Red Bull and Talk n Text.

"We can’t label it as family feud because we don’t even look at each other as family or sister teams when on the floor. Perhaps, it’s going to be never-say-die versus never-say-never," said Reyes.

"I love them (the Beermen) because they are my former players. I hope they love me, too. But we have jobs to do and I’m looking forward to a great championship series between two great teams," said Uichico.

"We may be sister teams but we both want to win. Both want to emerge champion, so it’s going to be a battle," said Dondon Hontiveros.

The Kings and the Beermen agreed San Miguel has the edge talent-wise even as Uichico announced that Eric Menk has been cleared to return to play.

"He’s been out for three weeks. So we’ll see if he’s fit to play Friday (today)," said Uichico.

"I must admit we have the manpower advantage specially without Menk (in the Ginebra lineup). But the same was said in the Talk n Text-Ginebra series yet Ginebra found a way to win," said Reyes.

"At this level of play, talent only invites you to the party. Hard work completes the job," Reyes added. "Ginebra has the advantage in energy. And having the longer rest should work for their game."

Both are highly motivated with the Beermen, the winningest team in the league with 17 crowns, looking to tie the Crispa Redmanizers’ record of five All-Filipino titles, and the Kings seeking a third All-Filipino championship and seventh overall.

Uichico is looking to become the fourth winningest coach in the league curiously at the expense of his former team which he had steered to six crowns.

Reyes, meanwhile, is hoping to complete a grand comeback in pro play after focusing his attention with the national pool the last three years.

Reyes has four PBA crowns and three Coach of the Year honors tucked under his belt.

Politics getting in way of Pacman’s training By Abac Cordero The Philippine Star 02/09/2007

At the rate things are going, it seems that Manny Pacquiao will have just around six weeks to train for his scheduled fight against Mexican Jorge Solis on April 21 in San Antonio, Texas.

Pacquiao, who hasn’t fought since beating Erik Morales in Las Vegas last November, is so preoccupied with so many things right now that his training has taken the backseat.

Pacquiao is seriously considering running in the May 14 elections, either as mayor or congressman in his native Gen. Santos City. But he has yet to file his certificate of candidacy with the Comelec.

Pacquiao has been shuttling to and from Manila and Gen. Santos City over the last couple of weeks. He is expected at the Capital City today for a derby in Makati later in the night.

In between his tight schedule are business meetings and negotiations regarding his political plans. A few nights ago, he was with Malacañang Chief of Staff Michael Defensor in Manila.

Pacquiao said he plans to fly to Los Angeles later this month or early next month to begin his training at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood under Freddie Roach.

His next fight, set at the Alamodome where he crushed Marco Antonio Barrera in November of 2003, could be the first of only two fights this year.

Solis is an undefeated 27-year-old from Guadalajara, and is ranked second by the World Boxing Council in the 126-lb featherweight division.

While eight weeks would be the ideal length of training, Pacquiao could set himself up for Solis inside six, the same length he spent gearing up for Oscar Larios last July.

Pacquiao was originally scheduled to face Korean Injin Chi in Macau on April 28, but the plan was scrapped for probably October because of various reasons.

Top Rank big boss and Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum said the unavailability of enough hotel rooms in Macau for the pay-per-view fight, and the boxer’s political plans were considered.

So, instead of April 28, Pacquiao’s next fight was pushed a week earlier. But his training, again, has taken the backseat against other pressing matters.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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