Hi there again good-looking gents and our fans! It's a day after Labor Day and I'm sure everyone is trying to enjoy the remaining days of summer. A lot of our fellow PBL players and officers with their families and friends had a grand time camping at Lake Mendocino near Ukiah this past weekend and should have numerous memories to share with us.

My last column was written two weeks prior to the Beijing Olympics but somehow never made it for circulation. It's not a coincidence that I'm writing one now because it's time to work because of Labor Day. The truth is it's been a long layoff since we had one and it's about time to keep up with all the latest news in our league.... Congratulations to our newly crowned champions of the Coaches Cup this summer, Derek's Express squad who won an exciting game against the Maharlika Boys. By winning, Derek joins his bro Rocky as the only brother-coach combination to win the championship. The defending and back-to-back champions Rudy's Defenders tried valiantly for a threepeat but the team was beset with injuries to key players like Lambert Javier and team captain Rudy Labson and only made it as far as the semis.

As the league is gaining fresher talent and quality players, there's a marked improvement in the caliber of play this past season and should continue in the future.....For the first time, nobody participated in our winner take all three point shootout but it wasn't sorely missed after all......In its place we had an almost All-Star selection tourney to compensate the lack of entertainment . I've said almost since the plan was to include quality players only, a few kangaroos were thrown into the mix somehow. Someone coined the word "kangaroo" to mean an average or mediocre player but that wasn't the intention. About three of four seasons ago, we had a selection of truly All-Stars playing prior to the regular championship game and it was a very exciting and entertaining one, a lot better than the championship game itself that we decided to have it again. The selection process is a far cry from the Old Star games where everyone can participate but the caliber of play is ho-hum and will put you to sleep. This time, the selectionwas by invitation only to ensure the quality of play. However, some players were not able to commit fully or just played sparingly because they were involved in the remaining playoff games. But there's nothing to take away from the new champions of the All-Star tournament, the Pampanga All-Stars. The Kabalens were clearly the best team in the four team tourney, with their special white all-star uniforms, ably coached by Elmer "Action Jackson" Pamintuan and even brought their contingent of cheering squads. The Metro Manila All-Stars could have given them a run for the money if only all their players had a full commitment to play the entire game. But anyway, kudos to Eric Santos who was unanimously chosen the MVP of the tournament with his double-double effort (points and rebounds) and heads up play.

And now for my All-PBL teams this past season: First Team - Dean Santos, Rodel Barroga, Eric Santos, Jose Cataag and Giovanni Cruz; Second Team - Paul Bukod, Vic Viray, Roland Tovera, Abet Lising and Butch Reynoso; Third Team - Benjie Suico, Lambert Javier, Henry Fernandez, Jojo De Guzman and Jojo Panoringan. So much for my selection of these guys. I'm sure a lot of you will be raising questions. So let's hear the argument.

Finally, here's my take on the Redeem Team if you have been following the Olympics. It's about time that the gold returns to the United States not because it's rightfully ours but because this team really deserves it. They had the right coach, the right attitude and chemistry and when the chips are down, the overall individual talent and athleticism really came out. The rest of the world is really catching up with the United States as shown by Argentina and Spain because they know how to play as a team and have been together for so long in international competition. If there's one lingering memory of that gold medal game between the USA and Spain, it's the team concept on the U. S. squad, leaving all their egos behind. If you noticed, Carlos Boozer and Michael Redd didn't even get into the game until the last 26 seconds of the game! Can you imagine sacrificing your game for the sake of the team? Come to think of it, we're not talking about average players here. These two are the stars in Utah and Milwaukee! .........We'll gents it's time to say good bye and I'll see you all in court by the second Sunday in September when our pre-season game is tentatively scheduled.