MANILA, MAY 17, 2007
(MALAYA) NINETY-SIX riders led by three former champions hit the road today for the 2007 Padyak Pinoy, a 10-stage, 11-day cycling odyssey that offers fame and fortune to the traditional sports heroes of summer.

Presented by Tanduay in cooperation with Wow Magic Sing and Air21, the Padyak Pinoy will award P500,000 to the team champion, with Cossack Vodka of former two-time titlist now coach Renato Dolosa heading the chase.

Hot on Cossack’s tail are Wow Magic Sing skippered by Victor Espiritu, Mail and More (Arnel Quirimi), Vellum (Fredrick Feliciano), Bacchus (Ericson Obosa), Caltez (Joel Calderon), U-Freight (Merculio Ramos), Air21 (Lloyd Reynante), Carguhaus (Emelito Atilano), Cool Pap (Bernard Luzon) of Cool Pap and the Visayas-Mindanao Selection (Roberto Villaver).

The race is organized anew by the Dynamic Outsource Solutions Inc. headed by Gary Cayton and managed by Paquito Rivas’s Philippine National Cycling Association. It is sanctioned by the PhilCycling of Bert Lina and licensed by the Games and Amusements Board chaired by Eric Buhain.

Today’s first stage, the Prologue, will be a 3.2-km individual time trial on a route behind the SM Mall of Asia in Paranaque.

Serving as a side event is the Padyak Pinoy Executive Race. At least 85 biking executives from the Philippine Executive Cycling Association are racing in today’s Prologue and in the 10th stage, a criterium on Roxas Boulevard in Manila, on May 27.

This year’s race is also supported by Champion as the official outfitter, Mail and More, Bacchus as official energy drink, Cossack Vodka, Vellum Cycles, Cargohaus Global Warehouse Services, Caltex, U-Freight Forwarders and SM Supermalls.

Santy Barnachea is the defending individual champion. He will be up against former titlists Espiritu and Quirimit and perennial contenders Feliciano, Obosa and Reynante.

Tehran:  No end in sight to RP Team woes BY NOLI CORTEZ

TEHRAN. – Hobbled by injuries, San Miguel-RP lost to Syria’s Al Jalaa 80-114 Tuesday, leaving national coach Chot Reyes carefully weighing his options going into the homestretch of the 18th FIBA Asia Champions Cup at the Azadi Stadium here.

Towering Bernard Jons had a rare triple double of 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocked shots while Julius Nwosu, a former PBA import, added 18 points and eight rebounds to spark and fuel the Syrians’ rout that took shape right in the first half.

More than the Syrian imports, however, it was the injuries being nursed by Jimmy Alapag, Danny Seigle and Mick Pennisi that weighed down the Nationals who absorbed their third straight and most lopsided loss in Group B.

Alapag and Seigle played despite nursing ankle sprains while Pennisi had a gimpy left knee, all of which were sustained in the course of a 66-75 loss to Kazakhstan’s Astana Tigers last Monday.

All three played against the Syrians but Reyes decided not to risk aggravating their injuries and kept them on the bench in the second half.

The Nationals can still make the quarterfinals on Friday if they win over Bahrain’s Al Muharraq at 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday (1:15 a.m. Thursday, Manila time) ending group play.

But Reyes has to decide whether he will leave his injured players’ fate to chance since the tournament they are really gearing up for, the SEABA championship set May 24-28 in Thailand, is just around the corner.

"Foremost among my responsibilities here is to protect my players and make sure we have the strongest team possible for the SEABA," Reyes said.

Alternate meetings with his staff and players have been set by Reyes starting at 11 a.m. Wednesday, both as part of the team’s dynamics and also to plot the strategies for the evening game.

"We’ll talk among ourselves," said Reyes. "While we will definitely go all out for a win, we’ll also try to find out how best to win even without being 100 percent."

One of Reyes’ goals here is to find the combinations that will click and the load on his mind got heavier after seeing his team unravel right in the first half for the second straight game.

Mostly, it was because of Jons, a skinny, long-limbed 7-footer who has the quick leap and uncanny timing to swat away shots and compliments his two-handed dunks with some nifty perimeter shooting.

"He plays above the air," said Asi Taulava who was blocked five times by the Louisiana native.

Jons went 8-for-9 from the field and 6-for-7 from the stripe before sitting out the fourth quarter, leaving Nwosu and the rest of the Syrians to stretch their lead to as much as 114-77.

Ren-Ren Ritualo scored the Nationals’ last 15 points off triples and wound up with 23. Despite just 19 minutes of action and his injury, Seigle still finished with 14 points.

Michael Mandaly led all scorers with 27 points to go with 10 rebounds while Brazil natives Eduardo Farhat, Marcelo Correa and 6-foot-6 playmaker Andre Churri combined for 18 points, 13 rebounds and four assists.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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