MANILA, JULY 16, 2007
(STAR) Four-time PBA Most Valuable Player and former MBA commissioner Ramon “El Presidente” Fernandez and champion PBA coach Eric Altamirano got the nod as heads of the BAP-SBP National Training Centers for Visayas and NCR, respectively.

BAP-SBP executive director Patrick Gregorio said the two hoop icons would spearhead the scientific training of possible national team aspirants in their areas.

Fernandez, a University of San Carlos alumnus who won a gold medal as a member of the 1973 RP team to the FIBA-Asia Championships and a silver medal in the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing, brings his vast experience in the sport to the forefront while Altamirano, the 1986 UAAP MVP who also steered Purefoods and Mobiline to PBA titles in 1997 and 1998, respectively, brings his coaching and training expertise to the program. His Coach E Basketball School is among the most respected in the nation.

“The aim of the BAP-SBP National Training Centers is to harness the potentials of young cagers aged 10 to 16,” says Gregorio. “They’d be too young to be allowed to leave their families for this kind of training in Metro Manila. That’s why we designed this program so that they can stay in their regions and still enjoy quality basketball education from among the best.”

Gregorio also expressed optimism in the chosen heads.

“Don Ramon (Fernandez) has won in every basketball level. It won’t be everyday that a four-time PBA MVP will be teaching you everything he knows and that’s inspiring in itself,” Gregorio notes. “Coach E (Altamirano) has touched so many lives with his coaching philosophy and I’m quite sure it will be an honor for these youngsters to experience a winning attitude under a bona-fide winner like him.”

Gregorio also disclosed that the heads for Luzon and Mindanao will be announced in the coming days, putting the BAP-SBP’s first national program in motion.

“This will change how we discover and train the future of Philippine basketball,” the youthful basketball leader explains.

Reyes: RP ready to take all comers in Olympic qualifier By Nelson Beltran Monday, July 16, 2007

With many lessons learned in two tournaments the last 14 days, the SMC-Philippine five has metamorphosed into a highly competitive squad that could well give any team a run for its money in the coming FIBA-Asia Olympic qualifier in Tokushima, Japan.

RP team coach Chot Reyes made that assessment as the Nationals completed a tough two-week grind capped by their triumphant finish in the Smart Four-Nation Manila Invitational Championship last night at the Araneta Coliseum.

“From March to today, the difference was like night and day. The team has grown into a different creature,” said Reyes, moments after the RP squad conquered Lebanon, 87-81, for the crown in the pocket tourney also participated in by China and Syria.

Syria showed up China, 90-85, for third place in the tourney organized by the BAP-Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and sponsored by Nike, Gatorade, Victory Liner, Casino Alcohol and Omega Pain Killer.

Jimmy Alapag scored 16 of his 23 points in the second quarter while Mark Caguioa made 13 of his 19 points in the final period as the Nationals repeated their 88-83 win over the Lebanese Thursday for the championship that further underscored the team’s readiness for the Tokushima joust from July 28-Aug. 5.

The RP squad will play Kuwait in two tune-up games Friday and Saturday before leaving for Japan on July 25.

“We now have the game to compete in Japan. But can we win it? That I don’t know

because that’s a confluence of good game and good fortune. At least, we have taken care of 50 percent of the equation. Now we only hope for good stroke of fortune,” said Reyes.

“Between now and July 28, our concentration will be the three teams (China, Iran and Jordan) we will play in our group. The coaching staff will dissect each and everyone in those teams,” Reyes added.

The Nationals have sized up the Chinese, the Iranians and the Jordanians, and Reyes felt the Nationals have a good chance against them.

Against the Lebanese who were qualifiers in the last two World Championships, the Nationals did well, showing the big improvement they’ve learned from their training stints in the US, Thailand, Iran, Belgrade and Taiwan.

Standing tall in the Manila Invitationals, Alapag won the Most Valuable Player award and led the Mythical Five Selection that also included teammate Kelly Williams, Lebanese Joe Vogel and Fadi El Khatib and Syrian Michael Mandaly.

Jimmy Alapag held his own in a fierce shootout with Vogel in the first half as the Nationals seized a 36-35 lead at the turn.

The Talk n Text prized playmaker fired three triples with the last coming before the buzzer sounded, giving the Nationals the one-point edge going into the final half.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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