MANILA, April 2, 2004
By Nelson Beltran - Talk n Text claimed a 97-93 thriller over Purefoods with Jimmy Alapag clinching the win as the Hotdogs hastened their own downfall with a crucial error after a sizzling rally in the Gran Matador PBA Fiesta Conference at the Tacloban National High School gym in Tacloban, Leyte last night.

The spitfirish Fil-Am guard regaled a sellout crowd in a place where he traced his roots as he gunned down two crucial free throws at endgame for the victory in the very first PBA game ever played in this capital city.

The Phone Pals overcame a fiery Purefoods rally sparked by a red- hot Paul Artadi from 16 points down as Alapag controlled an errant pass from Purefoods import Edner Elisma and canned in two foul shots in the last 16 seconds of play.

Alapag and the Phone Pals took control most of the way but had to fend off a fiery fourth-quarter Purefoods uprising as they tied the Alaska Aces at third place with identical 5-3 win-loss records.

The Hotdogs, who struggled minus injured key players Jun Limpot and James Yap, slid to seventh spot on their fifth loss against three wins.

With Jerald Honeycutt and Asi Taulava leading their assault early on, the Phone Pals took a 10-point lead, 53-43, at the half, then spread it to 16 twice early in the second half before settling for another 10-point margin, 80-70, at the end of the third period.

But the Hotdogs made a daring chase in the payoff period, coming within a point at 93-94 with 1:21 left in the game.

Taulava had eight points in the third quarter, including two jams that sent the huge crowd in the venue up on their feet. But it was Honeycutt who gave Talk n Text its last of two 16-point margins at 70-54 on a short jumper.

At the half, league commissioner Noli Eala had a mini-birthday celebration as he was presented a birthday cake by ABC Sports. Among his well-wishers was Leyte Rep. Ted Failon who was among those responsible in bringing the Talkn Text-Purefoods game in Tacloban.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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