MANILA, JULY 14, 2007
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - Somehow, there’s this feeling of emptiness in Willie Milller who bagged his second Most Valuable Player crown last night during the 32nd PBA Leo Awards at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Alaska ace, who won his first MVP plum in 2002, said he couldn’t understand why both his victories came at a time when most of the PBA stars are out playing for the national team.

“Maybe I’m just lucky to win a second MVP award,” said Miller, a flashy lefty who can either shoot from the outside, pass or penetrate. He came in as a rookie in 2001.

“But what I can’t understand is that both my MVP awards came when the other superstars are not playing. This was the same case when I first won it in 2002,” said Miller, who turned 30 yesterday.

Then, the country’s finest were gearing up for the Busan Asian Games. This time, the country’s finest are gearing up for the FIBA Asia Men’s Championship, a qualifier for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“That’s why I feel that there’s something lacking,” said Miller, now focused in helping Alaska in its PBA Fiesta Cup final showdown with Talk n Text.

On this glittery night named after former PBA commissioner Leo Prieto, Miller bested Mark Cardona of Talk N Text and Gary David of Air21. Miller won in the statistics race, and votes from the players, PBA and media.

The First Mythical Team is composed of Miller, David, Kelly Williams, Jay Washington and Dorian Pena. The second team is made up up Wynne Arboleda, Cardona, Arwind Santos, Danny Ildefonso and Yancy de Ocampo.

The top rookie plum went to Williams, and the most improved player award to David, who also ran away with the sportsmanship award. The Red Bull energy player awardee is Ronald Tubid.

The all-defensive team is composed of Nelbert Omolon, Santos, Harvey Carey, Arboleda and, again, David.

China’s young squad humbles RP quintet By Nelson Beltran Saturday, July 14, 2007

The SMC-Philippine team blew a rare chance of beating a Chinese team – be it a young “B” squad – with a horrid endgame collapse.

The visiting Chinese came charging back from a 10-point deficit at the start of the final quarter and subdued the Filipinos at the finish for a 77-74 decision in a preview last night of their Group of Death collision in the coming FIBA-Asia Olympic qualifier in Tokushima, Japan.

However, chances are the two teams will meet anew for the crown at the conclusion of the Smart Four-Nation Manila Invitationals tomorrow at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Chinese take on the Lebanese at 4 p.m. while the Filipinos battle the Syrians at 6 p.m. at the close of the elimination round at The Arena in San Juan today.

Although they failed to upend the tall Chinese squad, RP coach Chot Reyes said he was satisfied on how they fared in the showdown.

“There’s a myth that the Philippines can’t beat China. But with what the boys showed tonight, we know we can stay with them, we can play them and have a chance to beat them,” said Reyes.

“It was a won game we let slip away. It turned out we’re not mentally prepared to beat China. When the opportunity came, we couldn’t clinch it was too big a situation for us. Hopefully, we can do it in Tokushima,” Reyes added.

After squandering a 62-52 lead, the Nationals had a chance to salvage the game but Jimmy Alapag missed two charities in the closing seconds with the Nationals trailing by just one point, 74-75.

“No excuses, I missed it,” said Alapag, a 76-percent free-throw shooter whose botched charities were reminiscent of the heart-rending RP defeat to Korea in the 2002 Busan Asian Games.

China coach Adiljian was impressed with the RP team’s tough stand and maintained it could beat Jordan and Iran in the Fiba elims.

“Considering their quickness and court savvy, I think they’re better than Iran and Jordan,” said Adiljian, through an interpreter.

He also said that China’s second team is not yet in competitive form since it was the first time it played out the country but the former prized point guard, however, remained hopeful they can win the Tokushima joust.

The Beijing Olympics-bound Chinese team, featuring Yao Ming Wang Zhi Zhi and Yi Liangjiang, is now training in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In the first game, Lebanon bounced back from its 83-88 defeat to the RP quintet Thursday wuth a 95-60 rout of Syria.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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