ARUM:  IT'S  UP  TO  COTTO  TO  SEAL  DEAL

[PHOTO AT LEFT - Miguel Cotto MANILA, Philippines]

MANILA, JUNE 17, 2009 (STAR) By Abac Cordero -  It’s now up to Miguel Cotto if he wants to fight Manny Pacquiao on Nov. 14.

It all depends on whether the vacationing WBO welterweight champion from Puerto Rico would agree to the terms soon to be laid down on the table in front of him.

“I hope to put it together this week, to get an agreement on terms,” Bob Arum of Top Rank, which promotes both Pacquiao and Cotto, told fighthype.com yesterday.

Pacquiao, who has given Arum the go-signal to put up the fight, flew home from New York Monday evening, and went to Bohol yesterday afternoon to join the family vacation. He should be in Gen. Santos City today for the birthday party of his brother, Roel.

The main issue in the negotiations will be the purse split – how much Cotto would be willing to get against the reigning pound-for-pound champion from the Philippines.

After Pacquiao demolished Ricky Hatton last month, Arum announced that Pacquiao is now the greatest fighter out there, the new face of boxing, the sport’s main attraction.

The Top Rank president said anybody who fights Pacquiao next should be treated like all the fighters Oscar dela Hoya faced when the American Olympic champion was still the main draw.

And that means getting 30 to 35 percent of the purse, just as much as Pacquiao got when he fought Dela Hoya last December. In short, Cotto should be open to that.

Then there’s the weight issue.

Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, said a month ago they’d fight Cotto if he comes down to 142 lb, but the 28-year-old champion, who’s never fought under 145 lb since 2006, said no.

Cotto said he can’t make it lower than 145. But the prospects of fighting Pacquiao and earning a paycheck that’s quite hard to find these days, should make Cotto change his mind.

Because if he doesn’t, there’s Sugar Shane Mosley, the 38-year-old WBA welterweight champion who’s willing to sacrifice everything just to earn a date with Pacquiao.

In fact, Mosley’s handlers, led by Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions, feel that the pride of Pomona in California should be Pacquiao’s next opponent, and not Cotto, on vacation after his close, bloody win over Josh Clottey last Sunday.

“Cotto has a deep cut; Shane’s ready to go.’Sugar’ Shane Mosley is the best fighter in that division. He can punch more, he has more speed. Shane really wants this fight and is willing to make concessions,” Schaefer pitched.

“This is the fight people want,” said Schaefer, a master negotiator.

Mosley said he’s willing to go down in weight, anything in between 142 and 147, and get 40 percent of everything. He has also dangled his WBA belt.

But Arum, of course, wants Cotto vs Pacquiao, saying only if, and that’s a big if, they don’t come to terms shall they consider Mosley.

Kobe as playing coach? SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin Henson Updated June 17, 2009 12:00 AM

No doubt about it, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, this year’s NBA Finals MVP, is Michael Jordan reincarnate or at least the closest thing to a resurrection. He is now two titles short of matching Jordan ‘s collection but what may bring the Lakers star over the top is if he does something his Airness never did – win a championship as a playing coach.

Red Auerbach turned over the Celtics mantle of leadership to star center Bill Russell after the cigar-smoking legend won nine titles, including eight in a row. Russell, as playing coach, responded by leading Boston to the championship twice in 1968 and 1969.

It would be a fitting farewell for Phil Jackson if he someday passes the torch to Bryant as playing coach. Auerbach was 48 when he won his ninth title with Boston in 1966.

Briefly, the 10 factors that decided the just-concluded Finals were:

• Stan Van Gundy’s inadequacies. In the last few minutes of regulation and overtime of Game 2, Hedo Turkoglu did a good job of defending Bryant. Remember Turkoglu’s block of Bryant’s potential game winner from behind in the dying seconds of regulation and in extension, Kobe was limited to just two points. It never occurred to Van Gundy to use Turkoglu on Bryant again, preferring to stick with Courtney Lee and Mickael Pietrus. He played two “small forwards” together, Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis, and it left a big vacuum at the four spot. Van Gundy could’ve experimented by sliding Lewis to three and Turkoglu to two (for the match-up against Bryant) and using Tony Battie or Marcin Gortat a bit more at four to ease the pressure off Dwight Howard. Orlando needed an inside defender badly in Game 5 with Howard in foul trouble. Gortat took two charges from Lamar Odom and Battie made Howard look good when they played briefly together in the second quarter. Too bad for Orlando fans that Van Gundy wasn’t imaginative enough to think out of the box.

• Orlando’s losing attitude. When the going got rough in Game 5, the Magic gave up. Van Gundy desperately tried to fire up his boys but I suspect the troops had little faith in his ability to outcoach Jackson. I thought that in the first place, Van Gundy had little trust in his players who probably felt it and couldn’t be motivated to put their lives on the line for their coach on the court. If Van Gundy didn’t trust his players, how could he expect his players to trust each other? Where was Anthony Johnson in the series?

* * *

• Jackson’s experience. The Zen Master pushed the right buttons at the right time. In the title clincher, he sat out Bryant early in the second period to preserve him and never panicked despite Orlando’s strong start in Game 5. Throughout the series, Jackson used Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol together to start then adjusted with Odom coming off the bench to play four because nobody on the Magic squad could match up defensively – certainly not Lewis. His mop-up squad was composed of Gasol, Odom, Trevor Ariza, Bryant and Derek Fisher.

• Bryant’s brilliance. He was a man on a mission. The Black Mamba poured in 30 points in Game 5 and never eased off the pressure. He didn’t want a Game 6 – he went for the jugular in Game 5 on the road and the Magic vanished into thin air. In 23 playoff games, Bryant averaged 30.2 points, shooting .457 from the floor and .883 from the line. In the Finals, his norms were 32.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 7.4 assists. The 30-year-old guard has now played in 13 NBA seasons and is at his peak. For comparison purposes, Jordan was 40 when he retired in 2003 after playing in 15 seasons. Jordan could’ve played longer than 15 seasons but sat out the 1993-94, 1998-99, 1999-2000 and 2000-01 campaigns. To date, Bryant has scored 23,820 career regular season points. Jordan finished with 32,292. If Bryant plays seven more years until he’s 40, he’ll end up with 36,646 career points at his current average rate.

• Lakers’ rotation. LA’s shock troopers were far more productive and Jackson’s second unit fueled the Lakers’ continuity. Luke Walton and Jordan Farmar had their moments. But the most loaded shock trooper of all was Odom.

* * *

• Lakers’ defense. Because Orlando’s offense was so predictable with Van Gundy’s limited options, the Lakers asserted themselves authoritatively on defense. Howard was a marked man on the floor whenever the Magic spread the floor. Even on a seal, Howard found it difficult to make an uncontested move to the basket as the Lakers collapsed on his strong side. The timing of the double or triple team was crucial because the Lakers made Howard commit to try for the hoop before moving in so as to take away his passing options. For the record, Orlando was held to just 75 points in Game 1 and an average of 88.5 points in Games 4 and 5. The numbers were way below the Magic’s 101.04 clip, ranked 10th in the NBA regular season.

• Howard’s immaturity. He’s only 23. Give the man-child a break. Van Gundy could’ve used a more forceful power forward to help out Howard under the boards. Neither Battie nor Gortat had Van Gundy’s confidence. Whether the two bigs deserved their limited minutes is debatable. In Game 5, Howard compiled only 11 points in 39 minutes and the Lakers easily won the rebounding battle, 47-36. The Orlando coach could’ve passed for either Rip Van Gundy or Stan Van Winkle in moments when he should’ve been wide awake.

• Odom the X-factor. Off the bench, Odom was unstoppable. In Game 5, he had 17 points and 10 boards in 31.4 minutes. His back-to-back triples early in the third period doused a fiery Magic rally and upped the Lakers lead from five to 11.

• No consistency in Orlando backcourt. Van Gundy couldn’t decide which point guard to rely on in the clutch – Rafer Alston or Jameer Nelson. Turkoglu even played some point forward. Fisher feasted on the Magic’s fragile guard corps – he did his most lethal damage on Orlando in Game 4, draining a trey with 4.6 ticks left in regulation and another with 31.3 seconds to go in overtime as the Lakers won, 99-91.

• Ariza’s arrival. The former UCLA forward’s blossoming couldn’t have come at a better time. He made his mark in the Finals shadowing Turkoglu and hitting timely shots. In Game 5, he finished with 15 points and held Turkoglu to 12. Ariza scored seven points in the Lakers’ crippling 16-0 run in the second period. Orlando never recovered from that burst.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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