MANILA, JUNE 15, 2007
(STAR) By Joey Villar - Harbour Centre smothered Cebuana Lhuillier, 90-75, yesterday to complete its sweep of the PBL Unity Cup finals as it joined the elite cast of grand slam winners in the league before a huge crowd at the Olivarez Sports Center.

Unrelenting in offense and unforgiving in defense, the Batang Pier reasserted their mastery of the Moneymen as they broke away with a fluid run in the second quarter to close out their best-of-five series with an emphatic 3-0 rout.

The victory, its eighth straight in the finals, fulfilled Harbour Centre’s goal of scoring a grand slam, counting its victory over Toyota on its way to last year’s crown and a previous sweep of Hapee Toothpaste in the last conference.

The Batang Pier thus became the fifth club to win three straight championships, joining ESQ (1984-1985), Stag Pale Pilsen (1995), Tanduay (1997-1998) and Welcoat (1999-2000).

“It’s all hard work,” said Harbour Centre coach Jorge Gallent in the din of the celebration at center court.

But The Batang Pier made it look easy.

Chico Lanete dished out another fine offensive game of 18 points, including 12 in the first half when the Batang Pier outscored their rivals to set the tone for the rout. He went on to clinch back-to-back Finals MVP trophy.

Ryan Arana, a defensive specialist, finished with 15 points and eight rebounds and took the Pivotal Player of the series honors.

Like in Games 1 and 2, the Batang Pier dictated the pace in the early going as Lanete scattered 14 points in the first half while Arana, a former La Salle standout, tossed in 10 points in the second quarter.

That keyed Harbour’s breakaway run, which the Batang Pier sustained in the last two quarters to win pulling away.

Arana also had seven rebounds and two assists while shackling the top gunners of the Moneymen on the other end of the floor. Harbour also outrebounded Cebuana, 31-16.

Earlier, Harbour Centre’s Jason Castro nailed his second straight MVP plum, edging Ken Bono of Cebuana Lhuillier-Pera Padala in simple rites.

Castro amassed 490.77 points, including 155.10 media and player votes to become the league’s first back-to-back MVP awardee since Eric Menk of then Tanduay Gold did the trick in 1998.

Bono, the 2006 UAAP MVP, was actually leading the race after garnering 347.06 statistical points as against Castro’s 335.7. But the burly Cebuana cager failed to get the needed support from the players and the media and settled for a place in the Mythical First team.

Toyota Balintawak’s Dennis Daa, Harbour’s Chico Lanete and CL Pera Padala’s Doug Kramer were the other members of elite squad.

Ronjay Enrile of Burger King, Macky Escalona of CL Pera Padala, Chad Alonzo of Harbour, Patrick Cabahug of Toyota and JR Quinahan of Burger King composed the second Mythical team.

Other awardees were CL Pera Padala’s Luigi Trillo (best coach), Henkel-Sista’s Lawrence Bonus (most improved) and Ryan Reyes (top rookie), Magnolia’s Jonas Villanueva (sportsmanship) and Burger King’s Josh Urbiztondo (defense) and Mike Bravo (sixth man).

Pacquiao handling US legal battle well – Arum By Abac Cordero Friday, June 15, 2007

Despite the fact that it lasted seven hours Wednesday, things went well with Manny Pacquiao’s deposition regarding the court case involving giant promoters Top Rank and Golden Boy.

Bob Arum, owner of Top Rank, told boxingconfidential.com that he was totally satisfied how the Filipino boxer handled and went through the legal proceeding in Los Angeles.

“Manny did great. We come back tomorrow for more but Manny did just great,” said Arum, hoping that his boxer can wrap up the deposition Thursday with flying colors.

Golden Boy lawyers Burstein and Bertram Fields threw questions at Pacquiao regarding his personal knowledge of the facts related to the case.

The case stemmed from the fact that Pacquiao signed promotional contracts with both firms last year, first with Golden Boy in September, then with Top Rank in November.

Golden Boy sued Top Rank for “tortuous interference,” and believes that it remains Pacquiao’s rightful promoter.

“He (Pacquiao) is feisty, he is street smart and overall he is an intelligent guy. I was really impressed. And he just told the truth which always helps,” said Arum.

Two lawyers from Top Rank accompanied Pacquiao in the proceeding that was also attended by Golden Boy owner Oscar dela Hoya. It lasted from 9:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

From the hot seat, Pacquiao went straight to his luxurious La Palazzo unit near Beverly Hills. His adviser Mike Koncz said the boxer rested as soon as he entered his unit.

Pacquiao plans to leave LA for Manila Thursday or Friday. If he does, he will miss the settlement conference between Top Rank and Golden Boy before an LA judge.

Many believe that only a settlement can derail an Oct. 6 bout between Pacquiao and Humberto Soto in Vancouver, and open the doors for a Pacquiao fight against GBP fighter Juan Manuel Marquez.

During the meeting, the judge will ask both parties if there’s still a common ground they could work with en route to a settlement. Otherwise, the case goes on.

“What happens this coming weekend could change the whole Pacman situation. A settlement with Golden Boy, if it happens, opens up the whole picture. So we’ll have to wait to see what happens in the mediation,” added Arum, probably waiting for the outcome before he announces the final details of Pacquiao’s next fight.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved