MANILA, MAY 9, 2007
(STAR) By Nelson Beltran - A feel-good win over the PBA imports hopefully could serve as a big boost for SMC-Philippine team as the Nationals leave the country Friday morning for Tehran, Iran to vie for the FIBA-Asia Champions’ Cup.

The Nationals showed quickness and superb outside shooting to beat the PBA imports, 103-100, in an exhibition match last night at the Araneta Coliseum.

Danny Seigle, Mark Caguioa and Dondon Hontiveros produced big outputs from the outside before Jimmy Alapag and Mick Pennisi came through with crucial plays in the closing seconds to give the Nationals an inspiring send-off party for Iran.

"It will surely help build our confidence to know we can compete with anybody. To me that’s the victory we gained in this contest," said RP team coach Chot Reyes.

"I appealed to the imports to make it like our first game in the Asian Champions Cup and ‘‚m thankful they responded. They gave us a tough battle," Reyes added.

The imports blew three chances to force a tie in the end on missed three-pointers by Marquin Chandler, Rossel Ellis and Galen Young in the last 12 seconds.

To Reyes, the all-import team resembled the Qatar team which will be among their tough rivals in the FIBA-Asia Olympic qualifying tourney in July in Tokushima, Japan.

Reyes said it‚s a learning experience which exposed things that the team should still work on

"We lack the competitive sharpness since we‚re lacking competitive games. We still have to work on our defense," said Reyes.

But overall, the national mentor was pleased with how they performed against the PBA imports.

"The most satisfying part is seeing the boys enjoy playing together. They cheered for one another. There were big names on the bench cheering their teammates on the court," said Reyes.

Meanwhle, Air21 and Red Bull take on separate opponents today looking for a win that will keep them close with the pacesetting Barangay Ginebra side nearing the homestretch of the Talk n Text PBA Fiesta Cup double-round-robin eliminations.

The Express and the Bulls are expected to come back strong in their games against the Coca-Cola Tigers and the Sta. Lucia Realtors, respectively, at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Express and the Tigers clash at 4:35 p.m. then the Bulls and the Realtors collide at 7:20 p.m.

Meanwhile, defending champion Welcoat-Makati aims for a second straight win when it battles Talk n Text-Quezon City 2 in the Burlington-PBA Basketball League.

The Batang Welcoat Dragons, 71-32 winner over the Batang San Miguel Beermen-Caloocan Sunday, face the Batang TnT at 1 p.m. following the 11 a.m. encounter between debuting Coca-Cola-HRCSD and Red Bull-San Juan.

Air21 and Red Bull slid to joint second place with Alaska Milk as the Express were walloped by the Kings, 115-136, Saturday while the Bulls lost their lost two games to the Talk n Text Phone Pals and the Purefoods Giants by an average margin of 20.5 points.

The Bulls have a job cut out for them against the Realtors with Junthy Valenzuela serving the first of his two-game suspension and import James Penny battling a back injury.

Penny sat out the RP team-PBA imports exhibition duel last night at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Tigers and the Realtors are more in need of a victory with the two teams in the lower half of the chart.

Coca-Cola is tied with San Miguel Beer at sixth place on their identical 5-7 win-loss cards while Sta. Lucia holds a 3-8 slate, just a game and a half ahead of cellar-dweller Welcoat (2-10). The last placer after the double-round elims will be the only team to miss the playoffs.

What’s the World Cup? SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson The Philippine Star 05/09/2007

It was Golden Boy Promotions that hatched the idea of a World Cup of Boxing to fuel fan interest in pitting one country against another on a team basis. Amateur boxing tried the format a few years ago but it created more confusion than anything else in deciding an outcome for a sport that is individually-oriented.

Golden Boy conceptualized the World Cup as the stage for a country to be crowned "the world champion of boxing." A $500,000 diamond-crusted trophy was crafted by New York hip-hop jeweler IceLink Watches as the symbol of the World Cup.

Writer Scott Mallon described the World Cup concept as fresh and exciting. "It could provide a vital boost to the sport of boxing while at the same time, presenting some interesting and fierce rivalries," said Mallon in the website "Think about it England vs Ireland. Mexico vs Puerto Rico. France vs Germany. Japan vs Korea and the US against just about anyone. The possibilities are endless. But the World Cup might be better served if it was presented in a tournament, styled closer to soccer’s World Cup."

Styling a World Cup of Boxing to fit the mold of a soccer World Cup, however, is easier said than done. Boxing championships are not won by countries but by individuals representing countries. That’s the nature of boxing, which is a one-on-one sport.

As expected, Golden Boy’s chief rival Top Rank took a swipe at the World Cup concept and called it "a complete nonsense."

Top Rank matchmaker Bruce Trampler said, "There is no such thing as a World Cup in boxing although to be fair, Mike Koncz and I have had several discussions with Bob (Arum) and (Top Rank president) Todd duBoef about such a show in either California or Las Vegas and we would like to continue to pursue that idea."

The first World Cup was held in Arizona between Mexico and Thailand in October 2005. There were four world titles at stake in the six-fight card and Mexicans won them all. Only Thai Terdsak Jandaeng survived the Mexican juggernaut as Mexico took the trophy by winning five of the six bouts. The Mexican winners were WBO superbantamweight champion Daniel Ponce de Leon, WBO bantamweight champion Jhonny Gonzalez, WBO superflyweight champion Fernando Montiel, WBO lightflyweight champion Hugo Cazares and Jose German Cruz.

The initial plan was to stage the Mexico-Thailand showdown over two days in Bangkok with the Kokiet Group co-promoting with Golden Boy. The show on the first day was supposed to be televised on Telefutura in the US and the program on the second day on HBO Latino.

"The country totaling the most wins will get a trophy as they do in golf’s Ryder Cup or the Davis Cup in tennis," said Boxing News, a weekly London trade paper. "It will be called the Country Cup and the winners could defend

against other countries. It is a good idea and should be fun. It could be the start of something big."

Unfortunately, something happened on the way to Bangkok and the inaugural World Cup was relocated to the Desert Diamond Casino in an Arizona native American reservation called Tohono O’oodham Nation outside Tucson.

Mexico swept the four title bouts with Ponce de Leon outpointing Sod Looknongyangtoy, Gonzalez stopping Ratanachai Sor Vorapin in seven, Montiel decisioning Pramuansak Posawan and Cazares halting Kaichon Sor Vorapin in six. Additionally, Cruz knocked out Kosoi Sor Vorapin in four in the curtain raiser.

Terdsak eked out a win by split decision over Carlos Contreras in Thailand’s only victory. Terdsak, by the way, went on to lose to Juan Manuel Marquez on a stoppage a year later.

A plan for Mexico to defend the World Cup against Puerto Rico in April last year was scuttled.

Now, there’s talk of either Cebu or Manila hosting the second World Cup with Mexico staking the trophy against the Philippines in late August or early September. No less than Oscar de la Hoya himself will visit the country next month to survey possible sites for the big event.

At least three world title fights will spice up the World Cup show. Only WBO championships will be up for grabs. It’s no secret that de la Hoya has close ties with the governing body that is based in Puerto Rico where he has a home. The WBO president is Francisco (Paco) Valcarcel who is Puerto Rican like de la Hoya’s wife Millie. The WBO was formed when a group of disgruntled Dominican Republic and Puerto Rican promoters left the WBA in a huff during a tumultuous annual convention in Venezuela in 1988.

The three likely title bouts will be Ponce de Leon vs Rey (Boom Boom) Bautista, Gonzalez vs Gerry Penalosa and Montiel vs Z Gorres in a rematch. The fourth championship fight could be Cazares vs Bert Batawang.

The World Cup may be an inconsequential trophy because most of the quality champions belong to the WBA, WBA or IBF and not the WBO. And besides, it’s almost impossible for a country’s best fighters to congregate on the same card. Manny Pacquiao, for instance, won’t be part of the coming World Cup.

Still, the World Cup is something to look forward to, something to get excited about because national pride will be on the line. The real attraction is watching Bautista, Peñalosa, Gorres and possibly Batawang shoot for world crowns, even if they’re only of the WBO variety.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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