SHELL HUMBLES REALTOR'S
(from the Philippine Star By Nelson Beltran)
Manila, July 3, 1999 - Formula Shell took the best an inspired Sta. Lucia team could offer last night, taking its first win since its All-Filipino championship via a 94-90 bashing of the Realtors and their two much-talked about recruits in the third playdate of the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Philsports Arena.
Import Kwan Johnson and Fil-Am direct recruit Robert Parker did turn out to be prize catches for Sta. Lucia but their efforts in their debut in the local pro league didn't stop Shell from rebounding from a 77-86 loss to Alaska Milk in the tournament opener Sunday.
The Zoom Masters, their championship hangover now seemingly gone, played steadier this time, surviving the scare put up by the team which finished eight rungs behind them in the first conference.
Unfazed by the new faces in the Sta. Lucia lineup, John Best made a show of his own, proving to be the big difference in the contest. He wound up with 35 points and 16 rebounds.
Johnson and Parker were actually sluggish at the start. Not until the crowd started to taunt and jeer them that they began to show what they can do in their peak form.
Both proved to be prolific scorers with Johnson, who can shoot both from outside and inside, hitting 35 points and Parker, with a deadly touch from the longcourt, adding 23. Both playing the forward position, they combined for only 12 rebounds and had six assists, five steals and two blocks between themselves.
Johnson sizzled hottest in the fourth quarter but muffed two crucial free throws in the closing seconds to hasten their downfall.
The Realtors could have put up a tougher fight had ace slotman Dennis Espino suited up last night. The 6-foot-6 former UST stalwarts sat out the game due to a sprained ankle.
With a depleted frontcourt lineup, the Realtors had a hard time battling the Zoom Masters for the rebound. Shell hauled down 50 boards to Sta. Lucia's 37.
Still, the Realtors kept the game close in the first half although they struggled early on, trailing by 14 points, at 3-17, at the start.
Sta. Lucia grabbed a 41-39 lead at halftime and was still ahead at 70-68 before Shell rode on the exploits of Benjie Paras, Vic Pablo and Best as they ignited a decisive run to seize the momentum and the lead at 80-74 halfway through the payoff period.
The Zoom Masters proved to be steadier down the stretch as they repulsed the Realtors and denied Johnson and Parker a rousing debut in the league.
"It wasn't a pretty sight. We had a hard time pulling through and it's because Sta. Lucia came out with a lot of energy, believing they have an import with tremendous talents," said Shell coach Perry Ronquillo. - By Nelson Beltran
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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