MANILA, May 24, 2004
By Nelson Beltran  -  Talk n Text hurdled Barangay Ginebra, 117-102, with relative ease last night and arranged a slam-bang playoff-like game versus Coca-Cola Wednesday at the close of their stint in the Gran Matador PBA Fiesta Conference preliminary round.

The Phone Pals hope to avenge their nine-point defeat at the hands of the Tigers in their first meeting for a guaranteed playoff crack for the second and last outright quarterfinals seat disputed in the prelims.

A loss will relegate the team outside the Top Two, settling for either a twice-to-beat incentive or, worse, a knockout setto in the wildcard plays.

The Phone Pals actually braced for their crucial game with the Tigers with back-to-back routs, first versus the Purefoods Hotdogs, 131-105, last week then against the Kings much to the disappointment of the big Ginebra Sunday throng at the Araneta Coliseum.

"Without (Romel) Adducul, we felt they would have a hard time matching up with us. But I didn’t expect a game like that," said coach Joel Banal, himself amazed of the Phone Pals’ demolition of the Kings.

Their win-loss record regressing to 7-10 at seventh place, the Kings – beaten by the Phone Pals by just a single basket in their first meeting – will figure in a single knockout game in the wildcard plays.

"The boys know that their responsibility is to go hard every practice. They’ve been doing that for months now and we’re reaping the fruits of our labor. I hope it keeps that way as we play Coke Wednesday," said Banal.

Versus the hapless Kings, Talk n Text’s magic five of Jerald Honeycutt, Willie Miller, Asi Taulava, Victor Pablo and Jimmy Alapag had showdowns of their own with all piling up big numbers.

Honeycutt followed up his triple-double game the last time out with a huge double-double performance with 32 points and 16 rebounds. Miller matched his 28-point showing versus Purefoods while Taulava had his own double-double stint with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Pablo went 8-of-12 from the field for 16 points while Alapag banged in 13 points and issued seven assists.

Banal made special mention of Miller, the former ace Red Bull Thunder who he felt is now beginning to blend with the team.

"Willy’s responding very well. He’s beginning to blend with the team and understanding things needed to be done," said Banal of his prized catch during the off-season.

The Phone Pals actually held a slim 49-47 lead at the half but made a vicious run in the third to set the tone of the rout.

Closing the third with an 11-to-nothing run, the Phone Pals carried an 85-66 advantage into the final quarter which they padded to 20 points twice with the last at 109-89, time down to three minutes.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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