MANILA, NOVEMBER 24, 2003  (MALAYA) Coca-Cola coach Chot Reyes had made it clear his charges are tired this late in the season. Tee McClary must have heard him and taken heed.

Behind the overpowering performance of McClary, the Tigers came up with an abundance of energy level to feed on to subdue Talk N' Text 88-73 last night at the start of their best-of-five semifinal series in the Samsung PBA Reinforced Conference at the Araneta Coliseum.

With his local teammates' non-stop campaign since the Third Conference last year, McClary lived up to the challenge and more, embarrassing the Phone Pals' defense by exploding for a career-high 44 points on top of 22 rebounds.

The Phone Pals played minus Jimmy Alapag, the leading Rookie of the Year candidate who underwent reconstructive surgery on his nose last Thursday.

After getting out of a struggling first quarter, the Tigers paved the way for the cruising win with a momentum-swaying spurt bridging the second and third periods, and was never really threatened from thereon.

McClary scored 13 points in the second period alone, almost single-handedly outscoring the entire Talk N' Text crew, who scored 15 in the quarter.

The Phone Pals' hopes vanished soon after that, mainly due to the anemic showing by Damien Cantrell.

Cantrel could only score 15 points, and managed to only knock in six markers in the third quarter where the Tigers made their breakaway.

An 18-2 blast starring McClary was the run Coca-Cola needed to finally take control of the game, wiping out a 31-32 deficit in the second quarter to lead 49-34, four minutes into the third period.

Coca-Cola led biggest at 62-42 late in the third period. Even though Talk N' Text trimmed that to 48-62 with one full quarter left, the Tigers had enough firepower in reserve to parry whatever uprising the Phone Pals mustered.

Harvey Carey came off the bench to topscore for the Phone Pals with 21 points.

The scores:


Coca-Cola 88 - McClary 44, Juinio 12, Cariaso 8, Wainwright 7, Hawkins 4, Antonio 3, Hugnatan 2, Avenido 2, Reavis 2, Hatfield 2, Abarrientos 2, Morano 0.

Talk N Text 73 - Carey 21, Cantrell 15, Taulava 11, Belano 7, Telan 6, Pablo 6, Fran 3, Villa 2, Ravena 2, Locsin 0, Manalo 0.

Quarterscores: 16-19; 39-34; 62-48; 88-73.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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