TIGERS SWEEP SHELL-SHOCKED PALS
MANILA, NOVEMBER 29, 2003 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran - The Coca-Cola Tigers, only in their second year in the league, stretched their amazing streak of PBA finals appearances to four conferences with a 101-81 whipping of a listless Talk n Text Phone Pals at the Astrodome last night.
Coming off a stirring come-from-behind win Wednesday, the Tigers did another king-size job, fashioning out a big demolition of the Phone Pals to advance to the Samsung Reinforced Conference best-of-seven title playoff.
They take a shot for a second crown in the last four conferences either versus the San Miguel Beermen or the Sta. Lucia Realtors.
The 2002 All-Filipino titlists duplicated their finals stints in the recent All-Filipino and Invitational tourneys this year via a sweet sweep of the Phone Pals in their best-of-five duel. The Tigers hurdled the Phone Pals by an average winning margin of 13 points.
"The guys were inspired no end by our Game Two feat. That win was critical in this series," said Coca-Cola coach Chot Reyes.
"I did very little during our pre-game. Walang gaano kang makikita sa board. I just told the guys I have a lot of faith and confidence in them. I knew they would go out and do the job," Reyes added.
What’s on Reyes’ mind now is how to keep team from being complacent and discontented.
"That would be the mother of all motivations. We don’t want to again settle for runner-up honors," Reyes said.
Riding the momentum of their comeback from a 21-point deficit Wednesday, the Tigers seized control from the start, taking a 42-31 halftime lead which they padded to as many as 28 in the third quarter.
For all intents and purposes, the 2003 All-Filipino champions were goners as they fell behind 50-78 with a few seconds left in the third quarter.
Jeffrey Cariaso, who groped for form in Game Two, came out in full throttle to best typify the grit and guts of Coca-Cola, having near triple-double with 25 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in 37 minutes of action.
Artemus McClary also fired 25 points while Rudy Hatfield piled up 19 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and the same number of steals.
The Tigers outrebounded the Tigers, 56-45, while also handing more assists, 23-16, and shooting better from the field, 46.2 percent to 39.5 percent.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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