PALS, ACES TANGO FOR THE LAST TIME IN GAME 5 TODAY

Manila, June 29, 2003 By Edgard Hilario (BULLETIN) THERE IS no need for superlatives. This is Game 5, and that says it all.

Alaska and Talk ’N Text tango for the last time, for the last ticket into the Samsung-PBA All-Filipino Cup Finals tonight at the Araneta Coliseum.

It’s been a long-playing series, played longer than the other semifinals won by Coca-Cola over Sta. Lucia Realty, that underscores the almost even hearts and determininations of the Aces and the Phone Pals.

At 6 p.m., each goes for that one inch that separates life from death.

Tonight is the night when one team goes to the finals with the golden chance to be champion while the other becomes just one of the spectators.

“The question is, which team wants it more? The team with the true heart and character will be in the finals,” said Alaska coach Tim Cone after his Aces tied the series at 2-2 via an 87-86 overtime decision last Friday.

And could that team be Alaska, which never hides its desire to get back at Coca-Cola for winning the AFC title series, 3-1, in December 2002?

Or is Talk ’N Text’s hunger for a first-ever conference crown enough motivation to kill, and die, in the game tonight?

“Experience-wise, Alaska has the edge. But this team has been through a lot, and it’s young and hungry,” said Talk ’N Text coach Joel Banal.

The Phone Pals’ youth and heart showed in their 115-109 overtime win in Game 1 but the Aces showed why they’re not pushovers with an 86-77 win in the next game.

Talk ’N Text again grabbed the series lead with an 87-74 win but saw its march halted by that John Arigo three-pointer in the last 7.9 seconds of Game 4.

Now for added motivations, consider these.

A win tonight makes Alaska as the team with the third most championship appearances at 21, moving past no less than the fabled Crispa Redmanizers after San Miguel Beer with 25.

The last time the Aces were crowned All-Filipino champions was in 2000 then with Johnny Abarrientos (now with Coca-Cola) and Kenneth Duremdes (now with Sta. Lucia).

For Talk ’N Text, it will only be a third finals stint since taking over the Pepsi franchise at the start of the 1996 Commissioner’s Cup.

But in its two previous finals, the franchise lost to Shell in the 1998 Governors’ Cup and to Batang Red Bull in the 2002 Commssioner’s Cup — both in Game 7.

The Phone Pals could only boast of winning the 1998 Centennial Cup, a side event to a regular conference.

Game Today (Araneta Coliseum)

6:00 p.m. — Alaska vs. Talk ’N Text


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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