PBL: KUTITAP MAKES LAST TRIP TO SEMIFINALS; MORE PBA NEWS
Pasig Sports Complex, May 21, 2002 (STAR) By Joey Villar - Learning from its painful loss to Ateneo-Pioneers three days ago, Kutitap Toothpaste kept its composure down the stretch yesterday as it downed John-O Juzz, 92-84, and advanced into the semifinals of the PBL Chairman’s Cup at the Pasig Sports Complex.
Cyrus Baguio and Ryan Dy typified the Teeth Sparklers’ endgame toughness as they combined for their team’s last eight points and helped defuse a determined surge by the Juzzers.
"That loss gave us the motivation to hang tough in crucial situations like in this win," said Kutitap coach Coy Banal, referring to the 66-67 loss to the Blue Eagles that denied his charges an outright entry into the semis.
The high-leaping Baguio scored four of his 16 points in the final two minutes, including the go-ahead basket , while Dy came off the bench to score four points in the final 34.9 seconds.
The Teeth Sparklers took an 11-point lead in the third quarter only to allow the Juzzers, the newest team in the PBL, to claw back into the game and move to within two points at 82-84. Baguio and Dy then combined in an 8-2 run to finally settle the issue.
Kutitap 92 - Saquilayan 25, Baguio 16, Dy 12, Sakangsang 10, Gelig 9, Mercado 9, Mallari 7, Sison 2, Rivera 2, Natividad 0.
John-O Juzz 84 - Neo 17, Napa 16, Barbosa 15, De Ocampo 14, Ferrer 7, Cayabyab 5, Salvador 5, Baguion 2, Santos 2, Olaguer 1, Kiram 0, Booker 0.
Quarterscores: 16-23; 43-46; 70-66; 92-84
Going the limit? SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson The Philippine Star 05/21/2002
Alaska team manager Joaqui Trillo says he’s got a feeling that the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Samsung Governors Cup Finals will go the full route. The best-of-7 series is tied at two wins apiece.
Purefoods and Alaska battle for the lead in Game 5 at the Big Dome tonight.
If there’s a Game 7, it’ll be on Sunday.
"Down to a best-of-3," notes Trillo. "What a beautiful series. My hope is the referees let the players play the rest of the way. We got two technicals in Game 4 but that doesn’t mean we won’t contest bad calls anymore. I understand we’ve got to be a little laid-back in challenging calls. But we’re doing it for the good of the league, so the referees are on their toes. All we’re asking for is consistency in officiating."
Trillo insists the referees are cramping Alaska’s style. "We’re a defensive team," he explains. "If we can’t play our type of defense, how can we win? I noticed the referees started tightening up in Game 3, calling touch fouls, incidental contact. No more let go situations. Why? Because Purefoods complained they can’t get a break? Purefoods doesn’t need help from the referees–they can win the championship on their own but they’ve got to earn it. I guess we’ll just have to make our adjustments and play above the calls."
In Game 4 last Sunday, Trillo points out that the Tender Juicy Hot Dogs scored 23 free throws compared to Alaska’s nine. The difference was decisive as Purefoods won by six, 82-76.
"The complexion of the series has changed," he adds. "We know it’s offense versus defense. If we can’t play the kind of defense we played in Games 1 and 2, we’ve got to make big adjustments. In Games 1 and 2, we played (Derrick) Brown hard. Now, we just touch him and it’s a foul. On the other hand, look at how (Roger) Yap defends Ron (Riley)–he’s playing Ron as hard as we were playing Derrick before and the referees are tolerating it. We just want the calls to go both sides."
Brown knocked down 16-of-27 from the field and 13-of-17 charities in Game 4. Trillo claims Brown pushes off defenders and gets away with it. "They also set a lot of illegal picks to free Brown," he protests. Trillo says before the Finals, Brown averaged 29.9 points. But in the Finals, his scoring clip has soared to 36.8. Trillo’s contention is Brown is getting away with murder.
It’s clear that if Alaska doesn’t limit Purefoods to less than 80 points in a game, the probability is the Hot Dogs will win. In Alaska’s 12 wins so far this conference, none of its victims scored more than 71–except Purefoods when the Aces won, 106-102, in double OT in Game 2 of the Finals.
Four of the 12 wins saw Alaska holding its opponents down to less than 60.
In Games 3 and 4 which Purefoods won, the Hot Dogs scored at least 80 each.
Trillo admits if Riley played up to par, Alaska would’ve won Game 4. Riley shot only 5-of-15 from the field and finished with a quiet 12 points in 40 minutes. But he argues that if the referees ruled goal-tending on Rodney Santos’ jumper in the first period and they didn’t call a second technical on Alaska, the outcome could’ve been different.
"When Ron is angry, he takes it out on the other team like in Game 2 after he got three fouls in the fourth period, he scored 43," says Trillo. "He’s got a lot of pride. I know he’ll be back. He suffered a slight sprain in Game 3 but I think he was okay for Game 4. Maybe, just an off-night."
Trillo says the Aces clawed back to trim the deficit to two late in Game 4 but couldn’t hurdle the hump. "We’re supposed to win the close games," he sighs. "We came back but we couldn’t finish the job. It’s not enough just to come back —we’ve got to go all the way."
In Game 4, the Hot Dogs used a huge 49-32 edge off the boards to fuel a running attack that led to 22 fastbreak points. Alaska scored only six in transition. Alaska had its chances–the Aces had 20 more field goal attempts but converted only 39 percent compared to Purefoods’ 48 percent.
The backbreaker was Purefoods’ 23 free throws.
For Alaska to move ahead, Riley’s got to be in sync and he’s got to be more aggressive. Perhaps, Aces coach Tim Cone could play him closer to the basket and preserve his energies for offense rather than go head-to-head against Brown early. If Riley scored at least 20 points in Game 4, Alaska would’ve won. And Riley’s par for the course is just about 20 points–he’s averaging 19.4 this conference.
Santos is the missing link in Alaska’s offense. The Aces are waiting for the Slasher to explode. When he’s on the ball, Santos creates a lot of opportunities in the halfcourt. In the series, he’s averaging only 3.3 points–down from 8.5 last year. Note that Santos enjoys a mismatch advantage in the backcourt against either Yap or Ronnie Magsanoc.
As for Purefoods, the key is to control the boards. That’s why Kelvin Price–a workhorse under the glass–is so valuable even if he doesn’t score big numbers. In Game 4, Price chipped in only seven points but grabbed 15 rebounds. Purefoods is deadliest on the run. Interim coach Ryan Gregorio calls it the Hot Dogs’ high-octane attack. If Alaska can’t hold Purefoods down to less than 80, the Aces are in trouble.
What could stymie Purefoods is the fatigue factor. In Game 4, Gregorio used basically a five-man rotation. Five players logged at least 30 minutes apiece. No other Hot Dog played more than 10 minutes. In contrast, there were eight Aces who played at least 11 minutes each.
But Gregorio says fatigue shouldn’t figure in the Finals equation. "I told the guys to be ready to play extended minutes," he confides. "If a guy is used to playing 20 minutes, he’s got to be ready to play 25. And so on. That’s how it is in the Finals. You forget the fatigue factor because it’s winning time. That’s what makes a championship team."
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2002 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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