(STAR) By Joey Villar - A couple of reinforcements would be enough to help the Harbour Centre-backed RP basketball team nail the gold medal in the 24th Southeast Asian Games slated Dec. 6-16 in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.

What we need right now is at least one or maybe two players to reinforce the team. But if they can give me three, then that’s fine,” said RP coach Junel Baculi, who along with the Nationals arrived here Saturday night for a series of tune-up games.

“We’re now 70 percent ready to defend the country’s title, we’re now peaking at the right time,” said Baculi.

The RP team is eyeing Gabe Norwood of Hapee Toothpaste to reinforce the squad.

PBL chair Cecilio Pedro, also the owner of Hapee Toothpaste, is expected to give his blessing on the stint of the George Mason standout in the national team for the second time.

Mikee Romero, the Harbour Centre owner and amateur basketball godfather, said they hope to tap the players who could fit the team well in their weeklong training here.

“We’re trying to find the right guys for the team, that’s why we’re here,” said Romero. “Coach Junel and his staff are working very hard to plug the remaining holes.”

Erick Arejola, Romero’s special assistant, said he will send assistant coaches Louie Alas, Beaujing Acot and Ryan Dy to nearby Johor Bahru in Malaysia tomorrow where majority of the national players of both Malaysia and Indonesia are seeing action in a club tournament.

“We need to scout our rivals this early,” said Arejola.

Arejola said he’s worried of the Thais, who are reportedly planning to tap Thai-American players.

“I’m more worried about the Thais though,” he said.

The RP cagers are set to play four teams, including the Singapore national team. The Nationals are also scheduled to tackle Singapore Slingers – composed mainly of Australians and Americans seeing action in the Australia-based National Basketball League – the US Navy and a selection composed of tall Europeans.

PBL back-to-back MVP Jason Castro, former pro Alex Crisano, Beau Belga, Patrick Cabahug, Jeff Chan, Chad Alonzo, UAAP MVP Jervy Cruz, Jonathan Fernandez, Boyet Bautista, Allan Salangsang, Erick dela Cuesta, Chris Tiu and Eugene Tan comprise the squad.

Peach cops title in war of nerves By Nelson Beltran Monday, November 12, 2007

The Filipinos fell to an English invasion in the 2007 World Pool Championship.

Darryl Peach dethroned defending champion Ronnie Alcano in the Round of 64, crushed Django Bustamante’s title hopes in the quarterfinals and proved to be an unforgiving Filipino executioner till the end, beating Roberto Gomez, 17-15, in a dramatic finale last night at the Araneta Coliseum.

Gomez actually had all the chances to win and make history but succumbed to pressure, bungling what could have been back-to-back WPC championships for the home front following Alcano’s triumph last year.

Peach, the 35-year-old 17th seed, terribly outclassed Gomez in safety duels in the finish and pounced on the Filipino’s costly miscues for the victory worth $100,000.

Shelling out $100 to join a qualifying tourney, Gomez ended up banking $40,000 for the runner-up finish. But the 28-year-old couldn’t forgive himself as he blew away the opportunity to be the first qualifier ever to go all the way to win the WPC crown.

He squandered a three-rack lead at 15-12 and, at 15-15, threw away a chance to reach the hill by missing what appeared to be an easy shot on the 9-ball.

Peach, sporting a clean top, grabbed the rack given away by Gomez, then at 16-15, again utilized superb safety shots to finish off the Filipino much to the disappointment of the highly-partisan home crowd.

“This is a dream come true. But honestly speaking it was the worst match I played in years. The game plan just went out of the window. You never think you can win the world championship – you only dream about it,” said Peach.

“I gave it my best. I wanted to win badly for the country. But I made a mistake and it happens to the best of them,” said Gomez.

“I was uncomfortable at the start but I gained rhythm as I enjoyed the 15-12 lead. Then the immense pressure came into play. Probably, I wasn’t able to handle it,” Gomez added.

Peach himself felt the pressure, causing him to commit errors.

But in a struggling finish, Peach proved to be cool, more composed and patient, winning the match on a four-rack closing run.

Peach became the first Englishman to win a WPC championship even as he barely made it past the group matches and narrowly survived the quarterfinals against Bustamante.

Losing his first match in the elims to Slovak Matias Erculj, Peach needed to win his next two matches against Rodolfo Luat, 9-3, and Sing Lilly, 9-5, to reach the knockout stage.

He knocked out Alcano, 10-6, in the Round of 64; Lee Kunn Fang, 10-7, in the Final 32; Harold Stolka, 11-5, in the Last 16, Bustamante, 11-10, in the quarters, then Vilmos Foldes, 11-2, in the semis.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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