MANILA, MAY 4, 2007
(STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Beyond the FIBA-Asia Champions Cup, the 12th spot in the national team tasked to earn a spot in the Beijing Games remains open.

RP team coach Chot Reyes told The STAR Enrico Villanueva was given permission by his mother ball club Red Bull to join the Nationals only in the FIBA-Asia Champions Cup slated May 12-20 in Tehran, Iran.

With such restriction on Villanueva, Reyes said the 12th spot for the RP team campaigning in the FIBA-Asia Olympic qualifier in Tokushima, Japan on July remains up for grabs.

Also being considered for the spot are San Miguelís Rommel Adducul and Fil-Am player Gabe Norwood whoís graduating from George Mason University in June.

After the Champions Cup, the Nationals are flying to Ratchaburi, Thailand for the SEABA menís championship while Villanueva rejoins the Bulls in the PBA Fiesta Cup.

"My position is to play only 11 players in SEABA. Iím not losing sleep over missing a 12th player because SEABA is just a four-day tournament," said Reyes.

"But Iím not closing the door for a 12th man. I might get an amateur player. But I need a guy who can join us in training," Reyes added.

The SEABA menís championship is the qualifier among Southeast Asian countries for the FIBA-Asia championship in Tokushima in July. Team Philippines is expected to stamp its class against lowly rivals, including Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

But thatís not the case in the Champions Cup where teams from Lebanon, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, India, Kazakhstan, Syria, Kuwait and host Iran have confirmed participation. Teams in the Champions Cup can field two imports each but Team Philippines is opting to play without one.

Boom Boom faces acid test By Joaquin Henson The Philippine Star 05/04/2007

Whether Rey (Boom Boom) Bautista is the real thing or just a passing fancy will be known when he takes on unbeaten Sergio (Rocky) Medina of Argentina in a WBO superbantamweight 12-round title eliminator at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas this Sunday morning (Manila time).

Bautista, 20, will be tested once and for all by Medina who boasts a 28-0 record, with 16 KOs including five in the first round. If he wins, the Candijay, Bohol, slugger will challenge WBO champion Daniel Ponce de Leon in his next fight.

The jury is still out on Bautista who has yet to face formidable opposition but Medina will finally end speculation on Boom Boomís worth.

"This is Boom Boomís biggest test," said ALA boxing stable owner Tony Aldeguer whose son Michael is Bautistaís registered manager. "If Medina chooses to slug it out, I think Boom Boom will win by knockout. I expect Medina to fight in and out. I think Boom Boom has more than a 50-50 chance to win."

Aldeguer said from watching Medina on tape, he anticipates a tough fight for Bautista.

"Medinaís a little awkward," said Aldeguer. "I donít think he hits as hard as Boom Boom. He likes to move around. He has never fought outside of Argentina and might be awed by the glamour of Las Vegas."

Aldeguer said Bautista will pressure Medina from the first bell.

"Boom Boom has trained very hard for Medina," said Aldeguer. "If Medina runs, heíll pursue him and wear him down with body shots. Boom Boom has matured a lot and heís become very flexible. He wonít rush things. In the gym, Freddie (Roach) worked with Boom Boom on tactics to stop a runner. Medina is a skilled fighter but I donít think heíll be able to take Boom Boomís power."

Aldeguer said Bautista will beat Medina with his jab, patience, footwork and power.

"Boom Boom has learned to be patient," he said. "He first studies his opponent and figures out how to beat him. Heís not a one-track minded fighter who just looks for a quick knockout. Heíll box if he has to. He wants to be like Manny (Pacquiao) who wins with speed, power, his unique skills, toughness and guts. Heíll break down Medinaís defense then go for a knockout. He fights with a lot of confidence."

Bautista has logged five fights in the US but never in Las Vegas. In 2004, he set a record by becoming the first Filipino fighter to win consecutive bouts in Indonesia, Korea and Japan. Bautista is coming off a third round stoppage of Mexicoís Marino Gonzalez for the WBO Intercontinental and Youth superbantamweight titles in Cebu last February. His record is 22-0, with 17 KOs.

Medina, 25, has won the WBA Fedelatin, WBO Latino and WBO Mundo Hispano superbantamweight championships. In his most recent fight last December, he outpointed Victor Corvalan in a six-rounder. Medina is ranked No. 6 by the Ring Magazine while Bautista is not in the top 10, an indication that the Argentine is held in high regard.

Bautistaís ability to take a punch became a questionable issue when he was decked by Gerardo Espinoza in the second round of a fight in El Cajon, California, two years ago. Bautista was badly shaken but managed to survive and pound out an eight-round decision. The fight proved his resiliency and recuperative powers.

Medina is hoping to follow in the footsteps of legendary Argentine champions Pascual Perez (who decisioned Filipino challenger Dommy Ursua in a world flyweight title bout in Manila in 1958), Carlos Monzon, Victor Galindez and Juan Martin Coggi (who stopped Filipino champion Morris East for the WBA superlightweight crown in Buenos Aires in 1993).

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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