Manila, August 14, 2003 (STAR) Itís Red Bull Barako versus Alaska Milk and FedEx against Coca-Cola in the Samsung PBA Invitational Cup Final Four.

Red Bull Barako gained the last slot in the crossover knockout semis as the Thunder lost by one point to the Talk n Text Phone Pals, 87-88, in a do-or-die duel that had a bizzare ending at the Cuneta Astrodome last night.

PBA commissioner Noli Eala described it "the most absurd thing I saw in a basketball game."

Eala visibly disappointed in the contest that saw both teams playing not to win at endgame.

Coca-Cola withstood a decent challenge by Cebuana Lhuillier-RP Team, 91-83, to make it to the semis earlier.

The Phone Pals, who needed to win by eight to gain the last semis slot, even went to the extent of shooting to the Thunderís goal while enjoying the lead in the closing seconds possibly to force an overtime.

"Itís the teamís respon-sibility to win no matter what. Ang samang tignan ng nangyari," said Eala

"I congratulate Red Bull. I think itís a lesson for everybody that this kind of system is not fit. Nakakatawa ang nangyari," said acting Talk n Text coach Ariel Vanguardia. ó Nelson Beltran

Falcons easy prey for Archers By Joey Villar

Mark Cardona atoned for his lackluster game against Ateneo last Saturday with a superb all-around performance yesterday to power La Salle to an 81-61 romp over Adamson as the Archers joined the Eagles at second place in the 66th UAAP basketball tournament at the Blue Eagle Gym.

Cardona scattered 12 of his game-high 18 points in the first half as the Archers dominated the Falcons to close out their first round stint with a 5-2 (win-loss) slate in a tie with the Eagles and a game behind the pacesetting Far Eastern U Tams (6-1).

University of the East made it a three-way tie for second with a 75-65 romp over University of the Philippines in the other varsity game.

The Warriors trailed in the first two quarters but seized the upperhand in the third behind the wondrous shooting hands of James Yap who fired nine points in that stretch to power UE to a 57-54 lead.

The Maroons slid to 1-6.

Hitting eight-of-10 from the field, the three-year veteran guard also dished out nine assists, grabbed four rebounds, blocked a couple of shots and intimidated a lot of others with his leech-like defense.

His effort made up for a subpar 12-point game in his teamís humiliating 68-82 loss to Ateneo last Saturday.

But more than Cardonaís much-improved game, it was the Archersí vaunted full court press that spelled the difference.

"We made it difficult for them to execute their offense so itís really our defense that did the trick," said La Salle coach Franz Pumaren, who kept the teamís pattern of not losing back-to-back games since he took over as coach six years ago.

So lopsided was the match that both Pumaren and Adamson mentor Luigi Trillo agreed that the game was already over as early as the first half.

"I knew in the second quarter that itís over because their guards are not that confident in carrying the ball," said Pumaren.

"Before the break, I really felt itís going to be tough for us to steal this game because theyíre leading by more than 20 points and yet they were trapping so well," said Trillo.

The Falconsí downfall was also hastened by the benching of Trilloís top scorer Mark Abadia, who had 12 points in the first two quarters and added one more in the three minutes he was used the rest of the way.

"I benched him because he wasnít doing things Iím telling him to do, it should always be the team that comes first and not individual efforts," said Trillo.

After missing three games due to back strain, Carlos Sharma played for 16 minutes and finished with 10 points on a five-of-12 shooting clip while pulling down five rebounds.

It was Adamsonís fourth loss against three wins.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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