JANUARY 14, 2009
(STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Sta. Lucia’s Denok Miranda, center, squeezes in a jumper against Alaska’s Reynel Hugnatan, left, and Larry Fonacier. Alaska Milk stayed sharp despite a long 23-day layoff, picking up from where it left off in the elimination round as it repulsed reigning champion Sta. Lucia Realty, 92-76, in Game One of their KFC PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinal round at the Araneta Coliseum last night.

The Aces engaged the Realtors in a defensive battle in the first three quarters before making a decisive run in the payoff period to stretch their streak to three games dating back to the elims which they topped with a 12-6 win-loss record.

Willie Miller churned out a near triple-double game with 14 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists with Joe Devance, Sonny Thoss, LA Tenorio and Tony dela Cruz each contributing double-digit output as the Aces stopped the Realtors’ five-game romp bridging the elims and the playoff phase.

“We had an ugly first half but defense kept us in the game. Then they missed some three-pointers in the fourth quarter. It would have been a battle till the end had they made it,” said Alaska coach Tim Cone.

Getting back in groove right in their first game in over three weeks, Cone hoped they would make it 2-0 tomorrow.

“We still have the memory battling them a year ago. We know we won Game One easily but they turned it around, winning the next two games. Our goal right now is to come out and make a follow-up in Game Two,” said Cone.

Cone gave credit to Miller’s superb performance in their Game One triumph.

“Willie missed six of his seven shots and had four errors in the first half. But after a talk at halftime, he came out and played a spectacular second half. That’s what makes Willie very valuable,” said Cone.

The two-time MVP winner produced 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the second half and led the Aces in their lethal attack from a 71-all deadlock in the final canto.

Miller’s lone three-pointer in the contest capped a 14-2 run that gave the Aces an 85-73 advantage entering the last three minutes of play.

“I think we didn’t look sharp but we neither got tired. The hardest thing to do is not just to stay sharp but to stay in shape. I think we did, and credit goes to our trainers,” said Cone.

Cone said the team tried to get in shape during its long break by getting extended hours in practice.

Despite this, the Aces came out a little flat, held down to 16 points in the first quarter and to 38 in the first half.

The Aces, however, put up a good defensive job and kept the Realtors from pulling away.

In the end, Alaska’s defensive effort proved to be the key as the Aces held the Realtors’ shooting to 35.9 percent while converting 52.2 percent of their own.

Arum warns: 50-50 split or Hatton fight off By Abac Cordero Updated January 15, 2009 12:00 AM

The ball is now in the hands of Manny Pacquiao and his lawyer Franklin Gacal.

It’s up to them to decide whether the fight with Ricky Hatton would push through or not.

“There’s no way he’s (Pacquiao) getting the 60-40,” Top Rank’s Bob Arum told the LA Times.

Pacquiao’s ageless promoter issued the strong statement amid reports that the fight between Pacquiao and Hatton, already set May 2 in Las Vegas is in jeopardy.

Despite an earlier understanding or a verbal agreement between Arum and the Hatton people, including his promoters from Golden Boy, of a 50-50 split, Pacquiao has made a turnaround.

The Filipino superstar is demanding a 60-40 share of everything despite Arum’s admission that Hatton brings to the table more than anyone else Pacquiao could face at the moment.

Because of the previous agreement reached before Christmas, Hatton’s lawyer Gareth Williams said Pacquiao could be liable if the fight does not push through.

“As far as I’m concerned I’ve got a firm contract that the fight is taking place. As and when I’m officially told that the contract has been breached, then I will do something about it legally,” he said.

“As far as I’m concerned, no one has contacted me over a 60/40 split. It was simply put out on the Internet. My own view is that if you want to alter a deal, you speak to the parties involved. You don’t do it on the Internet. It’s up to him how he conducts his business but the simple fact is we’ve got a verbal agreement of 50/50 and that’s as far as it goes,” he added.

It was Gacal who made the statement that Pacquiao will look for a new opponent if they don’t get the 60-40 share. He refused to return calls or text messages from The STAR yesterday.

Hatton can easily rake in a million pay-per-view buys from England, and for this he probably deserves as much as he wants.

Arum told Lance Pugmire of the LA Times “the fight’s not happening” unless Pacquiao gives in, the way Oscar dela Hoya gave in to some of Pacquiao’s demands for the recent fight.

“Unless he comes to his senses and his people start acting intelligently . . . we’ll see if we can keep it together, but the split is supposed to be 50-50.

“We’ve all agreed to it. Now, people are whispering in Pacquiao’s ear. If they keep pushing for 60-40, Hatton and [his promoter Richard] Schaefer are pulling the plug,” said Arum.

“Ricky brings a substantial amount of revenue to this fight from England.... If Pacquiao doesn’t want to do it, he can fight someone else for less,” said Schaefer, the Golden Boy CEO.

Pacquiao thinks he can get a fight as big as a Hatton fight, and Gacal said they’re not moving unless the sharing moves toward the direction they want.

Arum said Pacquiao must make a quick decision, as quick as today, whether he wants the fight or not. Of course there are fighters lining up to face him, but none probably as exciting as Hatton.

Antonio Margarito, the welter-weight champion, wants Pacquiao at 147, but the southpaw from Gen. Santos City will be pushing his luck against the man who’s definitely bigger and stronger than him.

Arum was also quoted as saying that Hatton and Schaefer would “be in the right” to call off the match.

A fight with Edwin Valero or anyone else at 140 pounds may not offer even half of what a fight with Hatton offers – unless it’s Juan Manuel Marquez, a very dangerous foe.

Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, is on the same page with Arum.

“I hope they can come to an agreement but right now they’re at a standstill. I hope the fight happens, and I think 50-50 is a good deal. I agree with it, because Hatton brings a lot of people from the U.K. I hope I can get Manny on board,” he told the LA Time

Pacquiao in Warriors lineup SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson Updated January 15, 2009 12:00 AM

Liga Pilipinas president Noli Eala has confirmed that Manny Pacquiao is eligible to play for the host General Santos City MP Warriors in the inaugural leg of the second conference at the Lagao Gymnasium in South Cotabato.

Eala said Pacquiao was not in the original lineup submitted by Warriors coach Ramon Pido, a former PBL cager with Hapee and MBA player with Pampanga. But he was listed in the final roster that beat the 10 a.m. deadline yesterday.

Pacquiao was expected to make his Liga debut against the Ilocos Sur Bravehearts in the main event of a twinbill in General Santos City last night.

Eala planed in from Manila to General Santos City early yesterday morning to supervise the proceedings leading to the opening rites where Pacquiao was set to deliver an inspirational message.

Also in the Warriors cast is Pacquiao’s younger brother Bobby.

“For every leg, teams are allowed to change lineups so Manny may not be in the Warriors roster for the next leg if he has to leave for the US to train for his coming fight against Ricky Hatton,” said Eala. “I don’t foresee a problem if Manny is listed in the roster now. In fact, Manny’s inclusion has made the leg more interesting because the Warriors and Ilocos Sur are contenders.”

Eala said Ilocos Sur Gov. Deogracias Victor (DV) Savellano mentioned former Gov. Luis (Chavit) Singson, one of Pacquiao’s closest friends, was scheduled to arrive by private plane to witness the Warriors game against the Bravehearts.

* * *

In the tournament format, the league’s 11 teams are hosting a leg each. Ranking points are awarded depending on a team’s finish. After the 11-leg eliminations, three teams will be scratched out, leaving eight to play in four best-of-5 quarterfinal series with the survivors advancing to figure in two best-of-5 semifinal series. The home-and-away format will be 2-2-1 in the quarterfinals and semifinals.

The semifinal winners will dispute the championship in a best-of-5 series where the team with the superior record has the choice of hosting format, 3-2 or 2-3. The conference is expected to end in April.

Eala said Liga’s first-ever conference brought in 13 teams but the cast is now down to 11, with Baguio, Tagaytay and Pagadian taking leaves of absence. General Santos City came in as an expansion club. The other active teams are defending champion Cebu Niños, Manila (formerly Batangas), Pampanga, Taguig, Laguna, Quezon, Iloilo, Misamis Oriental, Zamboanga and Ilocos Sur.

Eala said in the last conference, each leg took five days to finish with three days for eliminations, one for the semifinals and one for the finals. But this conference, it will take only four days without the semifinals. A team that sweeps the eliminations will earn three additional ranking points as an incentive.

* * *

“We’ve got three Mindanao, two Visayan and six Luzon teams this conference,” said Eala. “More and more teams are accepting the concept of playing homegrown. Cebu, for instance, is going with an all-Cebuano lineup and took out former PBA players Marlon Basco, Bruce Dacia and Ron Capati to bring in locals like Greg Slaughter.”

Eala said former San Beda star Sam Ekwe is playing for Laguna and Fil-Am Terrell Theophile for Pampanga. Another Fil-Am Joey Deas is being courted by several Liga teams. “The league is wide open,” said Eala. “We’ve got competitive balance. Manny is certainly giving Liga a boost and he’s laying out the red carpet for our opening.”

In yesterday’s doubleheader, Laguna and Zamboanga tangled in the 4 p.m. opener. Then, the Warriors faced the Bravehearts at 6 p.m. Teams switch opponents today and tomorrow then the top two finishers slug it out for the leg championship on Saturday.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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