(STAR) By Nelson Beltran - The PBA Christmas Day presentation this year is a veritable battle of the champions.

It’s Alaska Milk versus Red Bull and Barangay Ginebra against Purefoods Tender Juicy in an explosive double-header at the Araneta Coliseum featuring the last four teams to win a championship in the country’s premier cage league.

The Bulls and the Giants reigned supreme in the 2005-06 season and they were succeeded last campaign by the Kings and the Aces.

Three of them are in hot chase for an outright entry into the semifinals. The Giants, the Bulls and the Aces press their bids as they go to work on Christmas Day.

Red Bull and Alaska clash at 3 p.m. then Purefoods and Ginebra collide at 5:30 p.m. ABC-5, however, will air the games on primetime starting 4:30 p.m. The general admission section at the Big Dome will be open for free to the public.

Meanwhile, Sta. Lucia’s Ryan Reyes became the first rookie this season named PBA Press Corps’ Accel-Smart Player of the Week, getting the accolade from the period Dec. 19-23.

Reyes beat teammate Kelly Williams for the award as he put in double-double efforts in their last two games against Alaska and Talk n Text.

Both games this Christmas Day are expected to be exciting with all four teams determined to jack up their stocks heading the last stretch of the double-round eliminations.

Purefoods and Red Bull hope to keep their one-two standing, Alaska seeks to bolt out of a three-way logjam at fourth place while Ginebra looks to gain solo seventh place.

With an 11-3 win-loss card, the Giants are a game away from at least a tie for second place. They’re two games clear of the second-running Bulls (9-5) and two and a half games ahead of the third-running Sta. Lucia Realtors (9-6).

Then there are the Aces, the Talk n Text Phone Pals and the Magnolia Beverage Masters who are tied with identical 8-7 records. Alaska slid in the middle of the chart after losing its last two games to Sta. Lucia and Magnolia.

The Giants are well-rested coming to this game, having played their last game against the Air21 Express in Bacolod 10 days ago. The Kings are playing their third game in the same stretch.

Purefoods bamboozled Ginebra, 103-76, in their previous tiff but the Kings were still without Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand and Eric Menk then.

The Kings are aching to get even to keep their flickering hopes for at least an outright quarters seat. Otherwise, they will be relegated to the wildcard plays where four teams slug it out for the last slot in the quarters.

PGMA awards cash gifts to medal winners in SEA Games

(OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY, MALACANANG) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo awarded this afternoon the cash incentives to the 228 medal winners in the recently concluded 24th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in Thailand.

Assisted by officials of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), the President gave the first batch of checks to the athlete adjudged as the Most Outstanding Athlete of SEAG 2007 – Filipino swimmer Miguel Molina.

Clutching the giant flower-vase-like glass trophy that he won as SEAG Outstanding Athlete, Molina walked up the stage of the Palace Heroes’ Hall to the President who promptly put four checks inside the glass trophy.

Molina – who got 330,000 Thai baht for garnering four golds medals in the latest SEAG – said the four checks totaled P325,000.

Of Molina’s four golds, three were for individual events, while the fourth gold was for a swimming relay event with three other swimmers with whom he shared the P100,000 cash incentive at P25,000 each.

The Philippines had a total haul of 228 medals, second only to Thailand. But the SEAG standings are based only on the gold haul, thus the Philippines’ sixth finish.

Of the 228 medals, 41 were for gold, 91 for silver, and 96 for bronze.

The 228 medalists compose some 40 percent of the 593 athletes who were fielded for the SEAG Games in Thailand.

Gold medalists in individual events got P100,000 for each gold medal; silver medalists, P50,000; and bronze medalists, P10,000.

As for the team events, the incentive amount was doubled, and the members divided the amount among themselves. For instance, the basketball team that got a gold medal was awarded P200,000 which was divided among the players.

The amounts are based on the Incentive Act of 2001, according to PSC officials who said the 400-plus athletes who trooped to the palace were transported to Malacanang in eight buses.

Meanwhile, the International Olympics Committee has invited President Arroyo to attend the Beijing Olympics from Aug. 8-24, 2008. The invitation was handed to the President at the closing of the awarding ceremony by Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) Chairman Jose Cojuangco.

Cojuangco said the IOC also invited First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo as the President’s ‘accompanying guest,’ plus one other companion.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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