MANILA, NOVEMBER 10, 2003 (MALAYA) Red Bull Barako may be the top team going to the quarterfinal round, but Talk N' Text proved to be the better squad in this crucial phase of the Samsung-PBA Reinforced Conference.

At least in the initial game, where the Phone Pals beat the fancied Thunder 120-115 last night before more than 8,000 fans at the Araneta Coliseum to move within another victory of advancing to the semifinal round.

What made the victory even sweeter for Talk N' Text was the fact that it snapped Red Bull's amazing 10-game winning run during the eliminations, main reason why it entered the best-of-three affair as heavy favorite.

Rookie Fil-Am point guard Jimmy Alapag broke out from a recent slump, outplaying his Red Bull counterparts with 28 points on top of 12 assists.

"We know Red Bull will come out strong. What we did was just hang on," said the 5-foot-7 Alapag. "We know the importance of winning Game 1 because it's just a short series. We'll try to win it in Game 2."

Alapag's main help came from import Damien Cantrell, who finished with 25 markers, nine coming in the pivotal payoff period. He added 17 rebounds.

Down by 54-59 at the half Talk N' Text rallied back to tie the count at 65 with 6:00 left in the third quarter.

The Pals enjoyed an eight-point lead twice in the third period, the last at 85-77, but the Thunder cut the deficit to 100-102 when NBA veteran Scott Burrell scored on a lay-up with 5:12 left.

But Talk N' Text quickly regrouped and answered back with an 8-3 run that gave it a 110-103 lead with 1:18 remaining.

Four straight free throws by Willie Miller cut the Pals lead to just 107-110, but that was the closest the Barakos could get as they failed to score a field goal in three possessions.

The scores:


Talk N' Text 120 - Alapag 28, Cantrell 27, Taulava 17, Ravena 13, Carey 11, Pablo 11, Fran 9, Telan 2, Belano 0, Locsin 0.

Red Bull 116 - Burrell 21, Miller 20, Asaytono 19, Harp 18, Robinson 11, Pennisi 8, Villaunueva 6, Torion 6, Tugade 4, Valenzuela 3.

Quarterscores: 21-24; 54-59; 91-87; 120-115.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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