PBA OPENERQuezon City, July 4, 2003 By Nelson Beltran (Star) Talk N Text coach Joel Banal rattled off numbers in explaining why the Phone Pals lost Wednesday.

The stats showed Coca-Cola beating Talk N Text in all departments: 43.2 percent versus 39.7 percent in field-goal shooting, 49-48 in rebounds, 26-23 in assists, 10-2 in steals, 8-2 in blocks and 13-21 in turnovers.

The result was an emphatic 93-79 victory for the Tigers in the opener of the Samsung PBA All-Filipino Cup Finals.

Thereís also one serious concern Banal was wary of the morning after the big Coke romp ó the fatigue factor.

Now, Banal is hoping his team gains some sort of second wind as they seek to get back at the Tigers in Game Two of their best-of-seven title playoff at the Araneta Coliseum today.

"Mukhang second wind more than anything else ang kailangan namin ngayon. Masyadong napagod ang team in the Alaska series," said Banal.

"Kailangan maka-recover sa pagod. Otherwise, mahihirapan kami," added the rookie mentor whose Phone Pals had to survive a gruelling five-game duel with the Aces to make it to the finals.

Incidentally, three of the Talk N Text-Alaska duels went into overtime, including the deciding Game Five last Sunday. And the Phone Pals had to square off with the Tigers in Game One of their title showdown with only a two-day rest. To make matters worse, they played in oven-hot condition inside the Cuneta Astrodome Wednesday.

"Mukhang malaki ang epekto doon sa dalawang bagong Fil-Ams (Harvey Carey and Jimmy Alapag). Si Carey nagreklamo sa init," said Talk N Text assistant coach Ariel Vanguardia.

Alapag and Carey played below par, combining for only eight points - their least production in the league thus far.

Manpower shortage doesnít help any for Talk N Text.

"Malaking problema namin kulang kami sa tao. Kaya hindi rin mabigyan ng pahinga ang mga players," said Banal.

Banal called an extra light practice yesterday at the Reyes Gym in Mandaluyong to give his players a little rest. They spent most of the session reviewing the Game One videotape.

The Phone Pals may really need all the rest they could get with Coca-Cola coach Chot Reyes keen on sustaining the pressure and a hustling defense.

"Itís no secret that we just play straight-up defense but with lots of pressure. Papahirapan namin talaga silang umopensa," said Reyes.

Shell and Purefoods clash in the curtain-raiser at 5 p.m. for the opening of the final qualifier for the Mabuhay Cup - formerly the Asian Invitationals. The Golden State Warriors lady cheerers are special guests in the contest.

Alaska Milk, Sta. Lucia Realty and Barangay Ginebra are also figuring in the fight for the last slot in the Mabuhay Cup which will feature guest teams from Yugoslavia, China and South Korea.

Red Bull, San Miguel Beer, Talk N Text, Coca-Cola and FedEx have gained slots in the tournament.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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