Fri, 03 Dec 1999

Defending champion Panasia shoots for Kobatama hat trick

JAKARTA (JP): Defending champion Panasia Indosyntec is out for its third consecutive crown in the A Mild Kobatama national basketball league.

"I want Panasia to win this year's Kobatama title. I want my club to create a hat trick because if we can win the title three times, the trophy will be ours," said Panasia's leading center Saut Lambok Johnson.

Panasia won Kobatama in 1997 and 1998; it also won the 1994 Kobatama under the name Hadtex, which it changed the following year.

The Bandung-based club's team manager, Danny Kosasih, said: "Panasia as a textile company will give the team Rp 100 million (US$13,745) if it can win the league. Our players will also receive extra money from the Bandung community if they can bring home the basketball league's trophy."

Panasia will be challenged in reaching its ambition by hometown favorite Aspac, which won the league in 1995 and 1996.

Aspac senior point guard Antonius "Inal" F. Rinaldo said: "We are ready to be the champion. We have entered the final and there's no turning back."

When asked about the amount of his bonus, Inal said curtly, "I will answer that later".

Four favorite teams -- Panasia, Aspac, Mahaka Satria Muda (SM) and Bhinneka Sritex -- engaged in a war of words at a news conference on Thursday prior to the final games at Senayan Indoor Stadium on Saturday and Sunday.

Final four first-timers Mahaka SM and Bhinneka, which finished 10th and fifth respectively last year, are also hoping to have their names engraved on the trophy.

SM senior center Fictor G. Roring said: "We want to show to the world that Mahaka has players with winning spirit. We want everybody to recognize us. We want to play our best and God will do the rest."

Wahyudi from Surakarta-based Bhinneka said: "Aspac has been a regular finalist for the league, while we aren't. But with our new team of coaches, we are sure that we can win."

Speaking about the bonus, Wahyudi said it would help motivate the team.

"I know all players on this team need money. We will play all out then."

During the last league of the century, Panasia will take on SM while Bhinneka will challenge Aspac.

The semifinals will begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The final will start at 4 p.m. on Sunday after playoff for third and fourth place, scheduled at 1:30 p.m..

Privately owned TV station SCTV will broadcast the semifinals and final live. The semifinals will also feature entertainment from pop singer Melly Manuhutu and rapper Iwa K. Tickets are sold from Rp 10,000 and Rp 15,000. (ivy)