PBA:  ANOTHER SLAM-BANG DUEL BETWEEN KINGS AND THUNDER?

MANILA, July 2, 2004
 
(STAR)
By Nelson Beltran  -  Series far from over —  Siot, Yeng:  Barangay Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen is not about to count Red Bull Barako out. Thunder mentor Yeng Guiao, on the other hand, is not about to push the panic button.

And this could be an indication of yet another slam-bang duel between the Kings and the Thunder in Game Two of their best-of-five showdown for the Gran Matador PBA Fiesta Conference crown at the Araneta Coliseum today.

With the weather improving, an even bigger crowd is expected to fill the Big Dome for the 7 p.m. tiff. Despite the rains, Game One drew a crowd of over 10,000 with the coverage of the match–particularly in the last quarter–hitting a rating higher than the shows of giant networks ABS-CBN 2 and GMA 7.

"It was the first time in years that we beat ABS-CBN in rating," said PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial.

Momentum may be on Ginebra’s side after a 94-92 decision Wednesday, but the two teams could still be on equal footing in terms of psychological high for the battle.

"The team’s morale is still very high. Although we lost Wednesday, we saw a good sign (to win the series) with the team putting up a good fight despite an early 22-point defict," said Red Bull Barako team manager Tony Chua.

Tanquingcen himself believes Red Bull is far from beaten that’s why he’s still pushing his players to work hard.

"There’s no reason yet to celebrate. It takes three games to win this series. For sure, coach Yeng Guiao will make adjustments and we have to find a way to play with it," said Tanquingcen.

Observers think the No. 1 adjustment coach Guiao should make is to start with his best five.

Fielding second-string center Homer Se and reserve guard Topex Robinson at the start, the Thunder took some time to get their game going, allowing the Kings to race to a 34-12 lead early in the second period.

"Our problem was our bad start. If we can have a good start next time, baka iba na ang maging istorya," said Guiao hinting at going full force at the start this time.

Despite a struggling start, the Thunder put up a good fight and could’ve even snatched the game if not for crucial lapses at endgame.

The Thunder made big runs to wipe out an early 22-point deficit with coach Guiao playing a big lineup with import Victor Thomas at off-guard covering Mark Caguioa who exploded for 16 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the three-point area in the first quarter.

But Tanquingcen also came up with a good adjustment by abandoning their man-to-man defense for the zone.

With both teams putting up good defensive efforts, Ginebra and Red Bull kept each other from shooting above 40-percent from the field. The Kings had more hustle plays, though, tallying 14 steals, three blocks and 14 rebounds as against the Thunder’s five steals, seven blocks and 15 offensive rebounds.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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