KOBE  BRYANT  WINS  ALL-STAR  MVP  AS  WEST  SNAPS  LOSING  STREAK  TO  EAST

LAS VEGAS,
FEBRUARY 19, 2007
(STAR) 02/19 12:20:39 PM AFP) - Kobe Bryant scored 12 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter as the West came away with a 153-132 win, snapping a two-game losing streak to the East in the National Basketball Association All-Star Game.

Bryant stepped up and imposed his will on his fellow all-stars winning the MVP for the second time and chipping in six assists and five rebounds as the West fell just two points shy of the All-Star Game points record.

The West showed on Sunday why it is considered the more dominant conference, posting one of the most lopsided wins in All-Star history.

The midseason showcase featured enough showboating, behind the back passes, alley-oop lobs and windmill dunks to entertain the crowd of 15,694 at the Thomas and Mack Centre arena.

The winners picked up 35,000 dollars while the losers collected 20,000 dollars.

BARANGAY  GINEBRA'S  HOTSHOT:  NOT  ONLY  A  SUNDAY

(MANILA) By Joaquin Henson - Barangay Ginebra starting small forward Sunday Salvacion was born on a Sunday in 1978 and would’ve been named Domingo if only his mother Charlita didn’t convince his father Leon to choose the English equivalent which to her, sounded better.

Throughout his basketball career, Salvacion has made it a habit to play extra hard on a Sunday.

But Salvacion says it’s not just on a Sunday where he tries to deliver something special to Ginebra’s legion of fans in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). His mission is to play hard in every game on any day, whether in the eliminations or finals. He considers it a blessing to be given an opportunity to play for the league’s most popular team and is careful not to blow it.

Salvacion, 28, has started every game for Ginebra against San Miguel Beer in the PBA Philippine Cup finals, now tied at two games apiece. And he’s enjoying his best season since breaking into the pros as Ginebra’s second round pick in the 2003 draft.

In his last 14 games, Salvacion has averaged 12.1 points and is playing a key role in Ginebra’s surge from a 0-2 series deficit. Not only is he contributing in offense but also in defense, shadowing the likes of touted San Miguel shooters Lordy Tugade, Dondon Hontiveros and Chris Calaguio.

Salvacion was born in Albatago, Surigao del Sur, and as a Rizal Memorial College high school player, saw action for a Davao selection at the Centennial Open in the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in 1998. College of St. Benilde coach Bong Go, scouting the Open, was impressed by Salvacion and offered him a scholarship to play for the Blazers.

In 1999, Salvacion was named Rookie of the Year in the NCAA. A year later, he led St. Benilde to the NCAA crown under coach Dong Vergeire with teammates Jondan Salvador, Mark Magsumbol, Al Magpayo and Ron Capati. In 2002, the 6-3 long-range bomber was voted the NCAA’s MVP. And after playing two conferences for Montaña in the PBL, he was picked in the PBA draft.

Salvacion, the fourth of five children, says he would’ve liked his father to witness his ascension to the PBA.

"I was my father’s favorite," he shyly admits in Filipino. "In 1996, he passed away, three years before I started playing in the NCAA. Even if he’s no longer with us, I know he’s watching over me up there."

Salvacion’s father made a living working a three-hectare field planted to rice and corn in Albatago. Now that his father is gone, Salvacion has brought his mother to live with him, his wife Maria Hazel, older sister Marilyn and a niece in a two-bedroom townhouse at Prima Vera Homes in Antipolo. Salvacion owns another house in the village and has transformed it into an internet café called "Sun Connect" with eight computers – a business he hopes will flourish into a network that can be a source of livelihood when his playing days are over.

Salvacion is a year short of completing his human resource management studies at St. Benilde but with his cage career on the rise, isn’t sure if he’ll go back to reenroll. He hopes his youngest sister Leonet, a St. Benilde varsity hoops star in the WNCAA, earns the degree he hasn’t been able to get.

Salvacion knocks down at least 200 triples a day at practice and idolizes Allan Caidic for his outside shooting touch. But his dream is to be known in the PBA not as a shooter but as a tough defensive player.

Salvacion reports for Ginebra practice an hour early, just like teammate Rudy Hatfield, to put in more training time. He says coach Joseph Uichico, team manager Samboy Lim and veteran teammate Johnny Abarrientos never fail to encourage him to play harder and boost his confidence.

Last Friday, Salvacion collected 20 points and eight rebounds as Ginebra rolled to a 146-111 win over San Miguel Beer in Game 4 of the finals.

With the series tied at 2-all, momentum has shifted to Ginebra’s favor as the Gin Kings try to become only the fifth team in PBA annals to come back from a 0-2 deficit to win a best-of-7 series. History, however, isn’t on Ginebra’s side as 23 teams that opened a 2-0 lead in 27 previous best-of-7 series went on to clinch.

But Salvacion says beating San Miguel twice in a row by an average of 32.5 points is ominous even as both wins didn’t fall on a Sunday.

"Sana tuloy-tuloy na sa championship," says the Ginebra hotshot.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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