(STAR) By Abac Cordero - Is Erap coming, too?

A reliable source has said that if the opportunity comes, former President Joseph Estrada will be around to watch Manny Pacquiao’s coming fight in Las Vegas.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, the ex-President’s son, was in Los Angeles recently, and reportedly dropped by at the Wild Card Gym where Pacquiao trains.

Another Erap son, San Juan Mayor JV Ejercito, was said to have visited Pacquiao’s training headquarters, and faced questions on whether his father would see the fight live.

“It’s possible. Erap is a free man and he can do whatever he wants to do. He can go wherever he wants to go,” said the source, a Team Pacquiao insider.

A horde of government officials is expected to watch the fight.

And if Erap joins them, the next big question is what would happen if he bumps into former buddy and former Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson, who blew the whistle that led to Estrada’s ouster from Malacañang.

Singson is a very close friend and “kumpadre” of Pacquiao’s. And he never misses a fight, especially when it’s held in Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the world.

First Gentleman Mike Arroyo used to watch Pacquiao fights in the US, too.

“Who knows? Manny can even set them up for a meeting. But that’s if Erap comes. Manny’s power to unite will be tested if this happens,” said the source.

This should be a very interesting sidelight to the Pacquiao fight.

Other side of the world SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson Tuesday, March 4, 2008

LONDON – It would’ve been a thrill for sure to witness Game 7 of the PBA Philippine Cup finals but unfortunately, I couldn’t be in the audience that packed the Araneta Coliseum to the rafters last Sunday.

I arrived here a few days ago and had to be content getting text updates from my daughter Cristina on the running score of what had to be the year’s most exciting sports event so far.

Manila is seven hours ahead so by the time Cristina texted the final score, I had just finished lunch. I conjured visions of the game in my mind. I imagined a defense-oriented contest, a battle between the league’s stingiest teams. I thought of how it came down to the fourth period, how Sta. Lucia Realty eventually broke out of a tight race to put the game on ice behind an 11-0 surge and how Purefoods courageously fought to the bitter end.

Sta. Lucia team manager Buddy Encarnado hit the nail on the head when in a text, he pointed out the key statistic that made the difference. He said the Realtors committed only four turnovers, a clear indication of poise under pressure and a deeper rotation because fresher legs mean less mistakes. In contrast, Purefoods compiled 18 turnovers leading to 20 points by Sta. Lucia.

In a long series, Sta. Lucia enjoyed a distinct advantage because of its bench. It was evident down the stretch in Game 7. Eight Realtors logged at least 10 minutes (compared to Purefoods’ seven) and only one, Kelly Williams, played 40 or more. Williams, by the way, went the 48-minute distance without relief. James Yap and Kerby Raymundo saw action for at least 40 minutes and Marc Pingris, 39. In the scoring department, there were seven Realtors with at least seven points including five in double figures compared to five Giants with seven or more and three in twin digits.

Because of the disparity in turnovers, Sta. Lucia was able to attempt more from the field, 81 to Purefoods’ 72. So even if the Giants had a higher field goal percentage, .431 to .407, the Realtors still had the edge in conversions. Free throws also made a big difference as Sta. Lucia hit 28-of-39 and Purefoods, 20-of-24.

Faith propelled Sta. Lucia to only its second PBA title ever and first in seven years. Coach Boyet Fernandez, in only his second conference on the Realtors bench, believed in his team from the start. He had a workhorse in Williams, an unselfish backcourt tandem in Denok Miranda and Ryan Reyes, an all-court operator in Bitoy Omolon, a firebrand in Joseph Yeo, a rugged two-way reliever in Norman Gonzales and a rejuvenated Twin Towers combination in Dennis Espino and Marlou Aquino.

Fernandez’ rotation was so deep that he didn’t even need to send in Paolo Mendoza last Sunday. Defense took care of business so Fernandez could afford to rest Mendoza, who’s more of an offensive player.

Purefoods coach Ryan Gregorio made it a series to remember. The Giants stormed back from a 0-2 start to knot the series before riding out Yap’s suspension in Game 5. Then came the emotion-filled equalizer in Game 6 and finally, the clincher last Sunday.

As for this visit, sports will be in the center of things – of course. Evander Holyfield is in town to promote a new book and I’ll be writing about his plan for a third meeting with ear-biter Mike Tyson. Dr. Elesa Argent, senior lecturer of sport studies at the University of Hertfordshire, is eager to study the Philippine case and may be tapped by Philippine Olympic Committee chairman Robert Aventajado and De La Salle University graduate school of business dean Philip Juico to share her views on building a strong infrastructure for the development of future elite athletes.

I’ll report on London’s preparations to host the 2012 Olympics and the views of British boxing experts on Manny Pacquiao’s March 15 duel with Juan Manuel Marquez. I’ll check in on England’s latest boxing hero Amir Khan and lots, lots more.

The weather has been wonderful with the sun occasionally shining to temper an average eight-degree temperature. The English make up for the chills with their warm hospitality, courteous behavior and friendly disposition. It’s also a time to get together with old friends like Pierre and Janice Viarnaud and Ravel and Jing (Rivera) Nejad and experience new adventures with my wife Menchu.

I’ll keep you posted on our odyssey.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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