BLUSTAR NIPS FASH DETERGENT IN NICK OF TIME

MANILA, January 23, 2004  (STAR) By Joey Villar - Blustar Detergent fought back down the stretch behind Eric dela Cuesta then leaned on Roland Pascualís game-winning lay-up at the buzzer as it turned back finalist Fash Liquid Laundry Detergent, 70-69, yesterday in a non-bearing semifinal contest in the PBL Platinum Cup at the Pasig Sports Center.

Pascual scored the marginal basket off a precisioned passing play with a quarter of a second to go although it was dela Cuesta who made things happen in the clutch as the Detergent Kings posted their ninth win against eight setbacks.

Dela Cuesta, drafted by Alaska in the recent PBA Draft, poured seven of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, including a triple as the Detergents surged ahead after trailing the Liquid Power in the first three quarters. He capped a superb all-around effort with his season-high nine assists, six rebounds and three steals.

Despite the loss, Fash coach Junel Baculi said heís happy with the way his wards played the game.

"Itís a learning experience," said Baculi, who is seeking to steer Fash to its third title against powerhouse Welcoat Paints in a best-of-five title duel which starts on Thursday at the Makati Coliseum.

"I just experimented on things and see how my second stringers could respond to pressure," added Baculi, owner of six PBL titles, including four for the Paint Masters and two for the Lamoiyan franchise.

With the Liquid Power looking to blow the game out of reach, dela Cuesta stepped in to lead a big run that turned a 50-58 deficit into a 65-63 lead going into the final 1.35 minutes of play.

Allan Salangsang then hit a triple and Wesley Gonzales scored a jumper to give Fash back a 69-65 lead before dela Cuesta nailed a three-pointer and Pascual delivered the final blow.

In the other non-bearing game, defending champion Welcoat Paints walloped Sunkist-University of Santo Tomas, 74-62, for its 13th win in 17 matches.

It was the Tigersí ninth defeat against eight triumphs. 


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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