WELCOAT, FLASH: ALL OR NOTHING TODAY AT PASIG'S PHILSPORTS ARENA

MANILA, February 7, 2004  (STAR) By Joey Villar - Coaches Junel Baculi of Fash Liquid and Leo Austria of Welcoat both felt there would be Game 5. But neither knows whoís going to win it.

That should make todayís winner-take-all match all the more interesting as the Liquid Power and the Paint Masters dispute the hotly-contested PBL Platinum Cup before an expected overflow crowd at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

"Iíll be there to personally witness it," said Chino Trinidad, who resigned as PBL commissioner Tuesday.

"Itís free to the public so Iím inviting everyone to come and watch too. This is the PBLís way of saying thank you for the support youíve given the league through the years," he added.

As an added treat to the fans, top comedian Bayani Agbayani will dish out a number during halftime.

For Baculi, who has been in the finals 11 times winning six, including four for Welcoat, itís a question of heart and desire.

"Forget about the statistics and who has the talent and skills. Itís going to be about who plays big and who has the heart to win it all," said Baculi, moments after the 2003 Unity Cup champion forced a rubber match via a 72-64 Game 4 win last Thursday.

Pro league-bound Peter June Simon, who proved he was every inch an MVP by firing 28 points, is expected to spearhead Fash bid again in their 2 p.m. encounter with the Liquid Power gunning for its third crown.

"Sana magawa ko ulit ang ginawa ko ngayon (Thursday)," said the 29-year-old Makilala, North Cotabato native, who vindicated himself after Welcoat players wore bands with inscription" (Jerkules) Tangkay MVP.

"Dati kong team yan, mahal ko ang owners ng Welcoat. Kaya lang inapi nila ang player ko kaya personalan na ito," said Baculi.

Austria, for his part, admitted they blew it in Game 4.

"We just didnít grab the opportunity to finish them (Fash) off," said Austria.

"Good for us, we have one more chance to do it and we hope weíll accomplish it this time."

To achieve their goal, Austria must drew the best from his ace players ó James Yap, Ervin Sotto and Tangkay.

After mediocre stints in the first three games, Yap finally came out of his shell as he exploded with 20 points in the first 30 minutes but Eugene Tan shackled him to just three points the rest of the way.

Sotto was surprisingly a non-factor again as he was held to just three points in 19 minutes while Tangkayís production dipped to 11 after averaging more than 20 points in the first three outings in the series.

"Hindi nagkakatugma-tugma. At least kahit man lang sana dalawa sa kanila ang pumutok, may pag-asa kaming manalo dito," said Austria.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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