NOVEMBER 13, 2008
(MALAYA) OSCAR de la Hoya's trainer, Nacho Beristain, has described Manny Pacquiao's style "awkward" and stressed said his ward would be able to handle it when they face off on Dec. 6 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

"Manny Pacquiao's style is very awkward, very different, but Oscar de la Hoya is the type of fighter that can adjust himself," said Beristain in a recent conference call.

"He can adjust himself to different opponents or different fight styles."

The Mexican trainer admitted Pacquiao is no ordinary southpaw, although he stressed the assessments in recent reports regarding the advantages of the fighters have been blown out of proportion.

"(The) advantages that many people are talking about are not precise such as the weight, the size, the power punch.

"It's going to come out that the fight is going to be even since Manny Pacquiao's a very powerful fighter, he's as southpaw and he's a lefty. So those advantages are going to be equal the night of the fight, because obviously everybody knows that fighting a southpaw is very hard; it is very difficult. And fighting Manny Pacquiao makes it a little bit harder.

"So I think there are no advantages for Oscar and there are no advantages for Manny Pacquiao. I think it's going to be a very even fight. And what I can tell you also is that it is going to be a very interesting fight," he said.

Freddie Roach, however, thinks Pacquiao adapts faster than De la Hoya.

"He's (De la Hoya) not the fastest learner in the world. When you show him something new you have to keep working on him where Pacquiao picks it up a lot quicker," said Roach.

"Not that there's anything wrong with it but the thing is it takes a little more time for him."

The long-time Pacquiao trainer also stressed having previously worked with De la Hoya does not assure victory for Pacquiao.

"I think it helps a little bit. But it doesn't win the fight of course. The thing is, I can advise Manny and tell him certain habits that Oscar has and so forth and hopefully we can take advantage of them."

Big bang in PBA SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson Thursday, November 13, 2008

(STAR) Things couldn't be hotter in the PBA as fans are getting treated to a lot of exciting games and unbelievable endings with the season only a month old.

After 42 games, the pro league has seen six overtimes, including a pair of double extensions. The race to the top is so tight that Coca-Cola, Talk 'N' Text, Barangay Ginebra and Red Bull - bringing up the rear with identical 3-5 records - are just a win behind Sta. Lucia Realty which ranks No. 4.

Rain or Shine, formerly known as Welcoat, is now up to No. 3 with a franchise-high five wins. Since entering the league two years back, the Raymund Yu-Terry Que franchise had never won more than four games in a conference.

Talk 'N' Text has a 3-5 record but two of its losses were by two points or less. Two of Coca-Cola's setbacks were by a single point. One of Ginebra's defeats came in overtime and another was by four points. Red Bull's average losing margin was only 4.8 points.

Clearly, no lead is safe in a PBA game. Teams are finding ways to come back from double digit deficits to win. Ginebra isn't the only never-say-die team in the PBA any more - all the others are now.

Air21 got off to a slow 0-3 start but has since regrouped to win three in a row, lost two straight in overtime and returned to form in a thriller over Rain or Shine. If the Express didn't lose to Purefoods in OT and San Miguel Beer in double OT, it would now be riding a six-game winning streak. The loss to the Beermen, incidentally, is under appeal.

One of Air21's spectacular wins was the 109-107 decision over Alaska last Oct. 29 when Gary David knocked down a triple at the buzzer. Another nail-biting finish was the Aces' 85-84 squeaker over San Miguel last Oct. 5. Still another chiller was Red Bull's 114-113 cliffhanger over the Beermen last Oct. 25.

Since the start of the season, attendance has dramatically picked up and TV ratings, too. Parity in the league is evident as every team has a 50-50 chance to win any given game, assuming a healthy lineup. That's the reason why in the second conference, the PBA is discarding the handicap system.

Average attendance is about 6,700 which is several notches higher than the level in the same conference last season. What's remarkable is the consistency of ticket sales as only one game has breached the 10,000-mark - Ginebra versus Purefoods last Oct. 26. That means the average isn't boosted by isolated surges.

* * * *

PBA media bureau chief and assistant to the commissioner Willie Marcial said yesterday the league will mark an unprecedented milestone by bringing two games overseas this season. In the past, the league took only one game abroad a year - to Hong Kong, Indonesia, Guam and Dubai.

In the first conference, Talk 'N' Text will play San Miguel Beer in Singapore on Nov. 30. In the second conference, a game will be played in Dubai on April 3.

"Dubai wants a PBA game at least once a year for the next three years and they're even asking if we could do it once a conference," said Marcial.

On the local front, Marcial said Angeles City is bidding to host a game or even two games each conference because of strong fan demand.

So far, the PBA has played games in Victorias (Negros Occidental), Panabo City (Davao del Norte), Gingoog City (Misamis Oriental) and Lucena City (Quezon) to full-packed gyms this conference. There are other games set in Cagayan de Oro, Batangas City and Tacloban.

"Wherever we go, the players are mobbed," said Marcial. "Commissioner (Sonny) Barrios' program of bringing the league closer to the people is a huge success. The fans can't get enough of the PBA. They want more and we'll try to give it to them."

Marcial said an indication of the increasing interest is the barrage of phone calls the league gets every day from first-time buyers.

"We're getting inquiries from people who never watched the PBA before," said Marcial. "Of course, there are the requests for complimentary tickets and they're more than usual. It's certainly a welcome development and a very encouraging sign for the season."

The PBA isn't just upbeat about turnstile sales but also the positive feedback from a growing TV audience.

* * * *

In its first year covering the PBA on TV, Solar Sports has done a solid job of improving the signal, sights and sounds of every game. What is apparent is the cohesive teamwork of the talents assigned to report on a game - from the anchor to the analyst to the courtside reporter to the interviewer. The delivery isn't only precise but also substantive. The female interviewers - Reema Chanco, Cheska Litton, Mica Abesamis, Peaches Aberin and Marga Vargas - are definitely making an impact.

Solar Sports vice president for sales and marketing Jude Turcuato said the TV response has been phenomenal.

"Our original objective was to have incremental ratings increase while significantly, growing the upscale viewers," noted Turcuato. "But we got significant spikes across all demographics by improving the signal clarity, graphics and changing the broadcast philosophy. Ratings have gone up by 50 percent from the previous year."

Turcuato said the top-rated game this conference is already higher than the finals averages of last season's pairings. He said a high of 8.4 percent was posted this year compared to the 7.2 average in the Sta. Lucia Realty-Purefoods finals in the first conference and the 7.9 average in the Ginebra-Air21 finals in the second conference.

"We in the PBA are happy and proud that most games have been found interesting and exciting by the fans," said Barrios. "The word is out - gate attendance is up and TV ratings have increased over last year. The ticketing office is deluged with ticket inquiries. All these are attributable to the overwhelming positive response of teams and the players to play their hearts out from start to finish every game. I am sure there are even better games to come."

No wonder PBA chairman Joaqui Trillo is all smiles these days.

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Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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