[PHOTO AT LEFT - The Powerade RP team’s 6-foot-9 Japeth Aguilar slams one in during first half action against Kazakhstan in the Jones Cup championship in Taipei TAIPEI]

TAIPEI, JULY 21, 2009 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Powerade Team Pilipinas finally got into the groove of things after dropping its first two games, drubbing Kazakhstan, 85-67, in the 31st William Jones Cup basketball competitions at the Hsinchuang Gymnasium here yesterday.

Behind the starting unit of Japeth Aguilar, Asi Taulava, Willie Miller, James Yap and Gabe Norwood, the Nationals came out strong and sustained a bristling pace throughout to beat the Kazakhs for the first time since the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games.

The Nationals held their own in rebounding and ran the Kazakhs to the ground with a running game anchored on Miller and the returning Jayjay Helterbrand.

The RP-Kazakh game was marked by several “firsts” for the Nationals here. It was the first time they got off to a strong start, dictated the tempo, hit treys and eventually won.

“It can’t be said this is an indication of what would happen in Tianjin because everybody’s just feeling each other out. It’s more of strategic (play) for most of the teams here,” said RP coach Yeng Guiao.

“The important thing is that we’re improving and we’re getting used to the brand of play in international competitions,” Guiao said.

“The Philippines showed fantastic basketball. One of the reasons we lost was that we couldn’t handle their fastbreak. Second, we struggled against the zone. We couldn’t fight it the whole game,” said Kazakhstan coach Oleg Kiselev through an interpreter.

Kazakhstan is a potential quarterfinal round opponent for the Philippines in Tianjin. It could well be a different story as three Kazakh star players are joining their team there.

Left at home are 6-foot-10 Anton Ponomarev, pointguard Berik Ismail and power forward Akhmet Omirzak. Ponomarev is said to be the best Kazakh player who’s an NBA draft prospect.

The Philippines scored its first win in three games here while Kazakhstan, semifinalist in the last Asian meet in Tokushima, Japan, remained winless in three starts following losses to Korea and Iran.

The Nationals were beaten by the Kazakhs in their last two encounters, the first in the battle for the bronze in the 2002 Busan Asiad and second in the 2007 Jones Cup. The Philippines beat Kazakhstan for the bronze medal in the 1998 Bangkok Asiad.

Miller topscored for Powerade-RP for the second straight game, making 13 points on top of five rebounds, five assists and one steal in 23 minutes of action.

Helterbrand, playing for the team for the first time since the PBA All-Star festivities, came through with seven points, two rebounds, two assists and one steal in 16 minutes.

Pacquiao-Cotto sealed at 145 lb By Abac Cordero Updated July 21, 2009 12:00 AM

[PHOTO AT LEFT - Manny Pacquiao]

MANILA, Philippines - It took a 15-minute phone conversation with Bob Arum for Manny Pacquiao to agree to fight Miguel Cotto in November.

At 145 pounds flat.

“It’s done,” said Pacquiao’s adviser, Mike Koncz, over the phone last night, sounding happy that the Filipino pound-for-pound champion has finally come to a decision on whom to fight next.

Koncz was scheduled to leave for Los Angeles last night to meet with Arum and discuss the final details on the fight contract which has yet to be signed by the 30-year-old superstar.

“No contract has been signed but Manny and Bob had a verbal agreement. And we’ve never backed out of any verbal agreement so Bob is happy with that for the time being,” said Koncz.

Pacquiao was busy shooting a movie when The STAR tried to contact him last night.

Negotiations for Pacquiao’s next fight took a sudden twist last week when Shane Mosley, the WBA welterweight (147 lb) champion, said he’s willing to fight the Filipino at 140 lb, and get 40 percent of the purse.

Cotto, the WBO welterweight champion, had insisted that he’d only fight Pacquiao at 145 lb, and not a fraction lower than that. This gave Pacquiao some doubts on whether he’d take the Mosley challenge instead.

Pacquiao’s lawyer, Franklin Gacal, said they wanted Cotto to drop down another pound or two, but now that everything’s been agreed upon, it’s time to focus on Cotto.

Koncz did not say what made Pacquiao seal the deal with Arum, the legendary promoter and master negotiator.

“Manny had a personal phone conversation with Bob Arum the other night and it lasted 15 minutes. Some adjustments were made and Manny has agreed to fight Miguel Cotto,” said Koncz.

“They resolved everything. They talked for about 15 minutes,” said Koncz.

Pacquiao had wanted his next fight staged on Oct. 17 but Arum, who also owns the promotional rights over Cotto, said that would run against the World Series schedule, and pushed the date to Nov. 14.

The extra month will also give Pacquiao ample time to finish all his previous commitments, incuding two movies he has to make, probably another string of commercials, some business deals and more time with his family.

“The extra month gives him all the time to finish all these. And by holding it in November, we want to maximize the dollars,” said Koncz.

The Canadian ring adviser did not elaborate on what the adjustments and agreed upon between Pacquiao and Arum although certainly it had to do something with the economics.

“But we don’t want to discuss that,” said Koncz who expects the fight contract to be sealed, signed and delivered soon. 

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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