PBL TODAY: WELCOAT PAINT, FASH LIQUID DETERGENT TRY TO SEAL TITLE CLASH

MANILA, January 20, 2004  (STAR) Defending champion Welcoat Paint and Fash Liquid Detergent try to seal their projected title showdown for the PBL Platinum Cup today when they face separate rivals at the Pasig Sports Center.

Foiled in their bid to nail the first finals slot last Saturday, the Paint Masters hope to make it this time with a repeat win over the Blustar Detergents in their 3:30 p.m. encounter.

The Paint Masters swept past the Detergent Kings in the elims, 71-63 and 71-62, then rallied from a 25-point deficit to post a 90-84 win last week, thanks to a solid 40-point performance of Jojo Tangkay.

"We have to do it today, otherwise baka mahirapan kaming maka-recover," said coach Leo Austria.

"Kailangang makabawi kami ngayon, kailangang mag step-up sila."

The Liquid Power, however, can claim the first finals berth if they beat the Sunkist-UST Tigers at 1:30 p.m. with coach Junel Baculi and company going for a record seventh straight win in the conference.

If their 70-66 win over the Paint Masters can be used as a gauge, then the Liquid Power will have no problem stopping the Tigers whom they humbled, 82-72, last week. They split their two games in the elims.

Victories by both Welcoat and Fash Liquid will formalize their entry to the finals since Sunkist and Blustar will not be able to catch up with them even if they win their remaining games.

Despite their recent setback, the Paint Masters still remain on top with an 11-4 record while the Liquid Power tote a 10-5 record after winning their last six games. Both Sunkist and Blustar have similar 8-7 marks.

The Detergent Kings, who beat Sunkist, 65-60, last Saturday, can still forge a playoff for the second finals berth under the 4-of-6 incentive rule but they have to win their remaining three games and hope that the Liquid Power and Paint Masters stumble along the way.

The Tigers have also a slim hope of finishing in a two-way tie for second at the end of the double-round semis but they also have to hurdle their last three assignments.

But the Tigers will be hard pressed to do it all the way not unless Alex Compton and Jemal Vizcarra will rediscover the deadly touch that enabled them to terrorize their rivals in the elims.

For them to beat the Liquid Power, the Tigers have to minimize the production of Peter June Simon and Rich Alvarez, two of the top candidates for this conference’s MVP.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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