ALASKA ACES ADD TO EXPRESS WOES

MANILA, March 18, 2004  (STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Alaska Milk, in a way, showed how vulnerable FedEx was, import-wise and bench-wise, as it claimed an emphatic 105-80 win last night in the Gran Matador PBA Fiesta Conference at the Araneta Coliseum.

Alaska further exposed FedEx’s weaknesses in the lopsided win that boosted the Aces’ stock at second place behind idle pacesetter San Miguel Beer.

The Aces gave FedEx import Alvin Jefferson a sad sendoff in the game that saw the reappearance of veteran mentor Joe Lipa in the league as consultant of the Express. Jefferson is to be replaced by Mike Maddox in FedEx’s next game versus Shell Saturday.

Galen Young came up with the first triple-double in the tournament with 27 points, 12 rebounds and the same number of assists in leading the Alaska charge on the way to its fourth win against a single loss.

The Aces totally dominated the Express as coach Boni Garcia and his boys remained winless in four starts in the tourney.

"Four and one (win-loss record) doesn’t win championship. But it put some pressure off. You earn some which you can put in your pocket and bring out later for the tough grind ahead," said Alaska coach Tim Cone.

Cone also hoped their 4-1 start would provide the kind of momentum they would need as they take on quality opponents like Talk n Text, Red Bull Barako and San Miguel Beer in their next three games.

Ali Peek had 22 points, four rebounds and the same number of assists, Mike Cortez added 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists and Brandon Cablay contributed 10 points and five rebounds.

Vergel Meneses paced FedEx with 29 while Jefferson scored only 14 points.

Willie Miller came away with back-to-back clutch baskets in the last 21 seconds of play as Talk n Text survived Sta. Lucia Realty, 94-92, also for its fourth win against a lone defeat in the nightcap. The Realtors remained winless in five games.

Meanwhile, Art Long and Mark Sanford are expected to figure in a fierce matchup as San Miguel Beer and Coca-Cola collide in what could be an early tournament title preview at the Lamberto Macias Sports Center in Dumaguete City today.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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