COKE CHOKES ALASKA, 103-82

MANILA, September 8, 2003 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran  - A few minutes before tipoff, coaches Tim Cone and Chot Reyes — friends off court and bitter rivals on it — chatted at the sideline, discussing how tired they already were and how they wished they could give their respective teams a welcome rest.

In fact, Cone had set a break for his team today and tomorrow. Alas, the Alaska Aces appeared to have decided to start resting last night.

The Aces came out flat and suffered their worst defeat in a long, long while curiously at the hands of their recent Invitational Cup title playoff victims the Coca-Cola Tigers at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Tigers ripped the Aces, 103-82, for the second straight win in the Samsung PBA Reinforced Cup eliminations.

"I had some inkling (Alaska would not play well) because I talked with Tim about two minutes before the game. He asked me ‘aren’t you tired?’ He told me they’ll take a break for two days after this game. He said they need the break and that’s exactly how I feel also for my team," said Reyes.

"I can feel the strain. We’re exhausted. After the Invitational finals, we only rested for three days. We prepared five days for our first game (versus Purefoods) in this tourney," Reyes added.

Reyes lauded his boys for responding in the affirmative in his challenge to come out and appear fresher than the other teams which are really fresh coming from a long respite.

The Aces just couldn’t do that and suffered their first defeat by more than 20 points for the first time in almost one and a half years. The last time they lost by that margin was March 16 last year also at the hands of the Tigers.

The Tigers utterly dominated the game, erecting a 21-point lead, 56-35, at the half and padding it to as many as 29 late in the third quarter.

Sta. Lucia forced a three-way tie with Barangay Ginebra and Coca-Cola atop the heap in Group B as the Realtors turned back the Shell Turbochargers, 92-87, for a second win in a row in the nightcap.

Reyes had the luxury of fielding all his players with four of them finishing in double figures. Tim McClary had a double-double game with 30 points and 16 rebounds while Reynel Hugnatan, Rafi Reavis and Jeffrey Cariaso combined for 32 points, 10 rebounds and the same number of assists.

Chris Carrawell piled up only 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Worse were Alaska ace locals Ali Peek, Mike Cortez and John Arigo who bled for only nine points together.

Cortez and Arigo had their worst outing this season with only two points apiece.

The Tigers set the tone of the game early as they took a 24-16 lead in the first quarter. with McClary firing eight and Reavis and Cariaso rattling in six apiece.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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