PBA: PHONE PALS EYE EQUALIZER

Manila, July 9, 2003 (MALAYA)  PBA All-Filipino CupPHONE PALS VS TALK N TEXT
Best-of-7 title series
Coca-Cola leads 2-1
Game 1: Coca Cola 93, Talk N Text 79
Game 2: Coca Cola 92, Talk N Text 89
Game 3: Talk N Text 67, Coca-Cola 59

Talk N Text has accomplished its immediate mission: To avoid being swept by Coca-Cola in their Samsung PBA All-Filipino Cup championship.

It's now a matter of moving on to another goal-to even up the best-of-seven series tonight at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Phone Pals bounced back from sorry losses in the first two games by taking Game 3 last Sunday.

Coach Joel Banal, however, said the win, no matter how important for team morale, should not be blown out of proportion.

"We're still down in this series and our job is still cut out for us," Banal pointed out. "If anything, this (win) only serves to boost my contention that Coke is beatable. But we've still got a long way to go."

Talk N Text came out in Game 3 with an intensity that more than matched Coca-Cola's. The Phone Pals were all over the floor, outhustling and even outpacing the Tigers, whose game is predicated on quickness and hustle.

"We are improving with each game. If we continue to do that, we'll definitely give them (Tigers) more than a run for the title," he said.

Poor outside shooting, getting beaten time and again off the boards and getting thrown off their rhythm for majority of the game did the Tigers in.

Coca-Cola failed to convert a single try from beyond the arc despite 13 attempts and got nailed by a 37-48 disadvantage in the rebounding department.

"You don't shoot, you don't rebound, you lose in a basketball game," Tigers coach Chot Reyes said.

Vic Pablo finally saw action for Talk N Text after injuring his thigh in the semifinals. He logged two points and one rebound in 18 minutes of action, but his intangible contributions were better.

The 6-foot-4 forward lent an additional inside presence that helped loosen up Coca-Cola's swarming defense on Asi Taulava.

Taulava, seeing only 33 minutes of action instead of his usual 40-plus each game, also improved on his free throw shooting. He made 10-of-15 from the stripe compared to 12-of-22 in Game 2.

The loss was the first in five playoff games for the Tigers. To back on track in their title-retention bid they must get Johnny Abarrientos, Poch Juinio and Ato Morano regaining their usual fiery touches.

Last Sunday, Abarrientos was consistently outplayed by Jimmy Alapag, Morano wound up with only two points and Juinio was held to the same output. He was never the same against after being slapped with a first degree flagrant foul on Taulava in the second period.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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