PBA  CUP:  CHARGERS  PULL  THRU  AS  EXPRESS  SPUTTER

MANILA,  November 19, 2004 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran - FedEx ran in a maze of miscues and misses at endgame, allowing Shell to break a three-game slump with a 101-99 decision in the Gran Matador PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum last night.

The Turbochargers were quick to pounce on the openings given them by the self-destructing Express as they completed a comeback from a 10-point deficit early in the fourth quarter, improving their win-loss record to 6-4.

The Express went scoreless in the last 3:43 as they suffered their sixth defeat against four wins.

Meanwhile, league leader Talk n Text seeks to close in on an outright entry into the semis as it guns for a ninth win against a solitary loss versus Alaska Milk in a Lactovitale-sponsored road game at the Cebu City Coliseum at 6 p.m. today.

"Were lucky hindi nagpapasok ang tira nila sa huli. But I have to give credit to my players. Talagang focus sila sa laro," said Shell coach Leo Austria.

"Sa last two practices namin, kitang-kita sa body language ng mga bata na desidido silang i-stop ang slump namin. And Im happy we did stop our skid, balik kami in contention for the top two," Austria added.

The Express had a shot at the win up to the final second but Wynne Arboleda misfired a three-point attempt.

Earlier, Marc Pingris committed a charity lane violation and Homer Se an offensive interference two miscues that helped the Turbochargers surge ahead at 101-99 with 54.1 seconds left in the clock.

The Express, who enjoyed an 89-79 lead early in the final quarter, never scored again after Renren Ritualo sank two free throws, giving FedEx a 99-94 advantage.

Ritualo, who led all scorers with 23 points, himself blew cold at the finish, missing one three-point attempt.

The two teams figured in a close game marked by 10 deadlocks and 14 lead changes.

Coca-Cola outplayed Red Bull Barako in the second half for a 101-88 victory in the second game.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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