PBA:  HOTDOGS  WIN,  BOOST  OUTRIGHT  SEMIFINAL  BID

MANILA, December 15, 2004 
(STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Purefoods kept its composure in the face of a fiery Red Bull Barako attack in the second half, hacking out a 92-88 victory in their road game in the Gran Matador PBA Philippine Cup at the San Sebastian-Cavite gym last night.

The Hotdogs outmaneuvered the Thunder down the stretch, salvaging the crucial victory after nearly squandering an early 18-point lead.

With the win, the Hotdogs kept alive their flickering hopes for an outright semifinal berth with an 8-8 win-loss record for solo fourth place behind the Talk n Text Phone Pals (11-4), the Ginebra Kings (10-5) and the Shell Turbochargers (10-6).

The Thunder, meanwhile, moved out of contention for the Top Two as they suffered their second straight defeat and slid to eighth place with a 6-9 card.

They have to finish eighth or better to avoid a tough twice-to-win task in the wildcard phase.

Jun Limpot and Tonyboy Espinosa canned in crucial charities to help the Hotdogs seal the win in the Lactovitale-backed road game marred by technical fouls by Espinosa himself and Jinwell Torion.

The game became intense and emotional as the Thunder made a big charge from a 25-43 deficit, coming to within two at 73-75 entering the final seven minutes of play.

The Hotdogs pounded the Thunder’s sputtering start to post double-digit spreads right in the first quarter before closing the first half at 45-32.

Red Bull struggled so much at the start that it committed 14 turnovers in the first period — the most by any PBA team in a quarter.

Meanwhile, Talk n Text seeks to clinch an outright seat in the semifinal round as the Pals take on the Shell Turbochargers at the resumption of PBA action at the Araneta Coliseum today.

Sta. Lucia and FedEx, both raring to get away from the cellar, play in the day’ s other game at 7:20 p.m.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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