PBA: COKE DROWNS GINEBRA, 86-79Quezon City, June 5, 2003 -- Jeffrey Cariaso played his best all-around game to lead hobbling Coca-Cola to an 86-79 win over Barangay Ginebra last night at the start of the Samsung PBA All-Filipino Cup quarterfinals at the Araneta Coliseum. Cariaso had a teamhigh 21 points to go with seven rebounds and seven assists and was instrumental in giving the Tigers full control in the final four minutes and into coach Chot Reyes' seventh straight win over the Gin Kings since the 2001 Governors Cup. More important, it gave Coca-Cola, which had Rudy Hatfield still favoring a sprained right ankle and Johnny Abarrientos in civvies due to a groin injury, the much-needed headstart in this short single round robin affair among the four teams in each group. "It's (quarterfinals) like a sprint, so it was very important to get off to a very good start. We were worried about the law of averages catching up with us since we beat them twice in the elims. But we knew that our effort, our drive would overcome that law," Reyes added. Ginebra sorely missed the services of ace forward Jun Limpot, suspended indefinitely by the league after testing positive for drug use. For a while, it seemed that Banjo Calpito would be able to fill up that void, especially after scoring 10 points in the first half. But when it was crunchtime, even he and frontline partners Eric Menk and Romel Adducul could not bail out Ginebra. The Gin Kings were held to just 3-of-21 field shooting in the fourth period and went dry for long stretches, practically allowing the Tigers to come roaring back from a 67-72 deficit. Cariaso's assist led to Rafi Reavis' thunderous dunk that gave Coca-Cola the lead at 77-76, before his triple made it 82-76, 2:30 left. Mark Caguioa buried his own trey to make it a three-point game going into the last minute, but that proved to be the team's last gasp and Cariaso and Hatfield pegged the final count with charities. "Once again, our defense pulled us through. We made stops when we needed to," said Reyes.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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