RP  TEAM  AT  FIBA-ASIA  MEN'S  CHAMPIONSHIP  FACES  CHINA,  SYRIA,  LEBANON

MANILA, JUNE 19, 2007
(STAR) The San Miguel-Pilipinas team gets a feel of the cut-throat competition that awaits it in the forthcoming Olympic-qualifying FIBA-Asia Men’s Championship in Tokushima when three potential major contenders fly in next month for the four-nation PBA-Manila Invitational Championships set July 12-15.

The national teams of Syria, Lebanon and powerhouse defending champion China are arriving to test the mettle of Chot Reyes’ squad which is about to complete a week-long sojourn in Belgrade, Serbia.

The tournament format calls for single round robin, with the top two teams vying for the championship and the other two playing for third place.

Venue for the July 12 and 14 games is The Arena in San Juan, while the Araneta Coliseum hosts the July 13 and 15 matches.

The Big Dome games on the 13th and the 15th will serve as preliminary matches for the PBA Fiesta Conference Finals.

The Tokushima FIBA-Asia, set July 28-Aug. 5, will pick Asia’s representative to the Beijing Olympics next year.

Meanwhile, the RP team blasted the Montenegro under-20 national team, 99-85, during their tune-up series at the Sports Ecko Sportski Centar in Belgrade, Serbia Monday.

Forward Danny Seigle sustained a hamstring pull and failed to see action for the rest of the game, while Mark Caguioa brushed aside a punching foul he took early in the game.

Though not in the original schedule of teams to face, the Nationals gave up their day-off to play a young, tall team composed of 6-2 point guard Marko Mijovic, 6-4 off-guard Sead Sehovic, 6-6 small forward Aleksa Popovic, 6-9 power forward Milovan Savovic, and 6-10 center Maksim Sturanovic.

The Montis applied the pressure on the Filipinos early and stayed in the passing lanes from the opening buzzer.

This forced the Nationals’ starting unit of Jimmy Alapag, Caguioa, Dondon Hontiveros, Ranidel de Ocampo and Asi Taulava to spread the floor and look for backdoor cutting opportunities.

With Seigle coming off the bench, the Nationals took a 26-18 lead after the first quarter, padded it to 51-40 at the half by going to Jayjay Helterbrand and using their experience to offset the absence of Kerby Raymundo (food poisoning) and Tony dela Cruz (strained back).

Sehovic, who was called for a punching foul against Caguioa in the first quarter, returned in the second half to spark his team briefly before getting repelled by the mid-post attacks of Ranidel de Ocampo, Dondon Hontiveros and Caguioa for a 56-43 Team RP advantage.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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