PBA: EXPRESS DERAIL ACES, STAY ALIVE 88-72

Philsport Arena, June 12, 2003 By Nelson Beltran (Star) Vergel Meneses played hurt but provided the kind of heart FedEx could lean on to rally Express as they trounced the Alaska Aces, 88-72, and stay in the thick of the fight for the Samsung PBA All-Filipino Cup semifinals at the Philsports Arena last night.

"We really need Vergel (Meneses) to set the tone for us. He did that though playing hurt and his intensity simply rubbed off to the other guys," said FedEx coach Derrick Pumaren as they avoided outright elimination in the tourney.

"Overall, it’s a team effort. We knew the situation we’re in. We’re aware that we have a foot in the grave. It’s good the FedEx team that won 10 games in the elims came out to play tonight," Pumaren added.

Despite a hamstring injury, Meneses came out smoking and provided the spark in a searing start by the Express. The one-time MVP awardee fired 15 of his 23 points in the first quarter.

The other Express joined the attack later on as the team dominated the Aces throughout, foiling Alaska’s bid for an outright entry into the Final Four.

Kenneth Duremdes came up with a second straight 40-point while Dennis Espino made 19 points to join the league’s 5,000-point club as Sta. Lucia Realty nipped San Miguel Beer, 83-81, assuring itself of a playoff crack at the semis in the nightcap.

FedEx and Alaska seek a playoff crack at the semis versus San Miguel Beer and Sta. Lucia Realty, respectively, on Saturday.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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