NEWSFLASH


Manila, Dec. 2, 2001 - (STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Sta. Lucia Realty came in its Sundayís best and routed a listless Pop Cola side, 86-74, for the second straight game to gain whatís only its second Philippine Basketball Association finals stint in nine years.

The Realtors simply outdid themselves, playing above their potentials, according to coach Norman Black, to crush the Panthers in their do-or-die match and arrange a best-of-seven showdown with the San Miguel Beermen for the PBA Governors Cup crown to the delight of their supporters at the Araneta Coliseum.

Game One is set Wednesday also at the Big Dome.

Damian Owens came up with a triple-double performance with 10 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists and got all the needed support from his teammates as they totally outclassed the Panthers for the emphatic victory that capped a big comeback from 1-2 down in the best-of-five series.

The Realtors imposed their will on the Panthers right from the start, racing to a 26-6 lead in the first seven minutes of the game and hanging tough the rest of the way.

Sta. Lucia dictated the tempo practically throughout despite the return of Johnny Abarrientos from a six-game layoff.

Paolo Mendoza seemed to relish his matchup with Abarrientos, firing 12 points, including two three-pointers.

Then there were Dennis Espino, Marlou Aquino and Gerard Francisco who had their own fine moments in the contest.

"My local players stepped up, playing above their potentials and that was the key," said Black as they arranged a title rematch with the Beermen whom they faced in their first-ever finals stint in the last yearís Commissionerís Cup.

"We won by a big margin but I got scared by our hot start. Itís hard to maintain the momentum of a big start but we kept the intensity till the end," Black added.

Meanwhile, the fate of the RFM Corp. franchise is to be discussed in a meeting at 6 p.m. at the Edsa Shangri-La Plaza today. Pop Cola board representative Elmer Yanga sought the special board meeting to discuss the possible transfer of the RFM Corp. franchise to San Miguel Corp.

SMC is purchasing the Pop Cola Corp. from RFM and the giant food conglomerate wants the Pop Cola franchise in the PBA to be part of the deal reportedly involving P11.6 billion.

A two-thirds vote of the board is needed for the franchise transfer to be made. Yanga said they will play under the banner of Selecta if the transfer is nixed by the board.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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