MANILA, NOVEMBER 6, 2003 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Ginebra San Miguel came to the rescue of Purefoods last night, giving its sister team a playoff crack versus Alaska Milk as the Kings drubbed the Aces, 96-73, in the closing playdate of the Samsung PBA Reinforced Conference eliminations at the Astrodome.

The Hotdogs and the Aces, who ended up with identical 4-9 win-loss records, dispute the fourth and last quarterfinals slot in Group A in a sudden-death at 7 p.m. tomorrow.

By coming to the aid of Purefoods, Ginebra ironically found itself in a collision course with another sister team Coca-Cola in the quarterfinals in Group B. Red Bull Barako established a new franchise and season record with a 10th straight win on a 110-99 walloping of Talk n Text earlier in the day. The Thunder will ride the momentum of that searing run against the same rival in the other Group B quarterfinals pairing.

Meanwhile, Kerby Raymundo beat Tony dela Cruz, 23-19, in overtime to arrange a title duel with Asi Taulava in the 6-foot-4 and above category of the Ginebra-Purefoods King of the Court one-on-one tournament.

Joey Mente set up a final confrontation with Willie Miller in the below 6-4 class with a 21-8 win over Leo Avenido.

The Thunder became the first PBA team in seven years to win 10 consecutive games as they avenged their 89-101 defeat at the hands of the Phone Pals last Sept. 5 to emerge the best team overall in the elimination play.

For a team which has achieved the same feat for four straight conferences now, the next goal is to sustain the fiery drive in a bid to nail a third crown in four years of participation in the league.

"We really tried to win convincingly kasi malamang sila ang kalaban namin sa quarterfinals and we wanted to have a psychological advantage," said Barako coach Yeng Guiao.

"Maraming significance sa amin ang game na ito. Itís my personal best and also the best for the franchise. Scott (Burrell), meanwhile, was trying to keep his clean slate," added Guiao.

Incidentally, Alaska Milk was the last team to win 10 straight games, achieving it actually in a run of 13 consecutive won games en route to the 1996 Governors Cup title.

Rookie guard Topex Robinson had a career game with personal highs of 11 assists, 10 points and four steals for the Thunder who also drew solid games from Burrell, Lordy Tugade, Enrico Villanueva and Nelson Asaytono.

"Lahat ng ginamit kong player gumawa. This game is also our way of preparing the team for the quarterfinals," said Guiao.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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