PBA: WE'RE UP VS. PALS, ALSO REFS - COKE COACH CHOT

Manila, July 11, 2003 (Star) The Samsung PBA All-Filipino Cup titular series starts out anew in a virtual best-of-three with a new twist as protagonists Talk n Text and Coca-Cola, all even after four games, clash in Game Five today at the Araneta Coliseum.

Talk n Text coach Joel Banal believes they would be fine for as long as they can match the intensity and firepower of Coca-Cola.

But here’s the twist: Coca-Cola coach Chot Reyes feels they have to beat not only Talk n Text but overcome the officiating if they were to stop their skid and retain the crown.

"We have to play defense against the officiating," Reyes was overheard as saying as he abandoned Game Four with a few seconds left in the contest in utter disgust over the refs.

"Now I know where (coach) Tim Cone (of Alaska) was coming from when he said mahirap talunin ang Talk n Text kapag ginawa ng mga referees na ‘untouchable’ si Asi (Taulava)," Reyes told The STAR.

"Tapos kami if they (the referees) continue to go that way," he added.

He noted Taulava and Harvey Carey playing 41 and 39 minutes, respectively, and finishing with only two fouls each Wednesday.

"Si Taulava one foul agad after the first three minutes pero natapos two fouls lang. Si Carey naman baligtad, last three minutes na nagkaroon ng foul," Reyes said.

Indeed, there was a big disparity in fouls with the Tigers getting 32 and the Phone Pals only 20. In Game Three, the Tigers also incurred more infractions, 29-19.

Reyes, however, accepted the fact that the Phone Pals played well in making it two in a row in Game Four.

"Talk n Text played very well in Game Four and they deserved to win, but it’s a pity pinakialaman ng referees," he said.

"That’s the good news. Game Four was a high-scoring game and we’re still able to pull through. In Game Three, we beat them because they couldn’t shoot," said Banal.

Ironically, Banal has made that embarrassing loss in Game One as a rallying point.

"Somebody had asked me how to motivate my team. I saw no need to motivate them. I think we need to be warned more than motivated. We have to keep in mind what they did to us in Game One," said Banal referring to their 93-79 blowout on July 2.

Reyes loves to believe they’re now the underdogs after being bottled up by the Phone Pals the last two games.

"With the way things turned, we’re back in a familiar situation being the underdogs. It’s a situation where we are more comfortable," said Reyes.

But Banal insists they haven’t achieved anything. "We’ve just evened it up. And that will mean nothing if we don’t go all the way to win the championship."


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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