PBA: PALS BEAT TIGERS TO ENTER QUARTERFINALS

Quezon City, May 5, 2003 -- Asi Taulava got away with his 11th double-double performance last night as Talk N Text finally formalized its entry into the quarterfinals with a 91-87 win over defending champion Coca-Cola last night in the Samsung PBA All-Filipino Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.

Coming off a triple double performance in the Phone Pals' last outing against Alaska, Taulava topscored for the team with 30 points on top of 14 rebounds and three blocks as the Phone Pals streaked to their fifth straight win and improved to 9-5 overall.

The 6-foot-9 Fil-Tongan shone from the free throw line, making five of his seven attempts in the final minute as Talk N Text, coached by Joel Banal, finally beat a Chot Reyes-coached squad since the 2001 Commissioner's Cup.

After topping all scorers in the first half with 17 points, Jeffrey Cariaso, the Tiger' top scorer, was limited to a solitary point in the third period and just two in the final quarter. Nobody else among the Tigers stepped up as Coca-Cola slipped to 7-6.

After leading in the first two quarters, the Tigers found themselves trailing 74-81 in the third before Ato Morano tied the count for the last time at 81 with 2:59 remaining, completing a three-point play off Patrick Fran.

The two squads figured in a neck-and-neck battle after that until Taulava completed a three-point play off Edward Juinio that gave the Phone Pals a 89-85 lead with just 23 seconds left.

Cariaso trimmed the lead to a single basket with only 13.2 seconds to go but Taulava was not to be denied, sinking two free throws off Morano, time down to 8.5 seconds.

"I knew they'll (Tigers) try to run again and they also managed to take out our offensive boards in the first half," said Banal. (Marivic Awitan)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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