MANILA, OCTOBER 18, 2003 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran  - What’s already a special day for Red Bull Barako the team made extra special as the Thunder had their bash on the playing court on the 10th anniversary of the energy drink product.

The Thunder worked hard to make their day more meaningful, stretching their amazing streak to seven games in the Samsung PBA Reinforced Conference with a 73-70 win over the San Miguel Beermen at the Astrodome.

"This is specially dedicated to all our fans, our dealers and all the people supporting us through the years. This is the team’s way of saying thank you to them," said Red Bull Barako team manager Tony Chua.

Resolute defense down the stretch clinched the win that had the Thunder staying in strong contention for the top seeding in Group B in the quarterfinals.

Red Bull Barako, at 8-2, is breathing down Coca-Cola’s neck. The Tigers (9-1) seek to firm up their hold of the lead in the group as they take on the FedEx Express (3-6) in an Air Philippines-sponsored out-of-town sortie in Bacolod City today.

"Parang bumibigat ang pressure to keep the streak but the fact that we’re already safe in the quarters ang bumabalanse," said Red Bull Barako coach Yeng Guiao.

Incidentally, the Thunder snapped the Beermen’s own three-game run. San Miguel slid to 4-7 in Group A.

"We’re worried against San Miguel because they’re also coming off a streak, they have a good import in Kwan Johnson and all their big men are back. It was a big test with San Miguel being a strong contender in the other group," said Guiao.

The Thunder and the Beermen figured in a closely-fought match that nearly went to overtime.

But Dondon Hontiveros missed a potential game-tying three-point shot in the last three seconds of regulation play, allowing the Thunder to escape with the win and later have a happy party in a five-star hotel in Makati.

In the Ginebra-Purefoods King of the Court one-on-one competition, Coca-Cola’s Leo Avenido beat Sta. Lucia’s Francis Adriano, 16-12, in overtime to advance to the semifinals in the below 6-4 category.

Scott Burrell bounced back strong from a four-game showing the last time out, dishing out a double-double game with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Davonn Harp had a near double-double outing with 13 points and nine rebounds while Willie Miller added 12 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Enrico Villanueva and Mick Pennisi combined for 17 points, including clutch baskets in the fourth quarter that helped the Thunder overcome a 43-53 deficit in the third period.

Pennisi, who tallied eight points and four rebounds, banged away a three-pointer that gave Red Bull Barako the lead it kept to the finish at 67-64 with 5:45 left in the clock.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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