PBL:  MONTANA  ENTERS  FINAL;  WELCOAT  FORCES  GAME  3

MANILA, January 26, 2005 
(STAR) By Joey Villar - Montana Pawnshop played steady down the stretch and whipped Granny Goose, 67-63, to gain the franchise’s first-ever finals stint in the Philippine Basketball League.

The Jewels overcame gnawing pressure at crunchtime, repeating their 74-66 win in Game One to advance to the PBL Open Championship finals.

Montana goes for the breakthrough championship versus the winner of the other semifinal matchup pitting Welcoat Paints and Magnolia Ice Cream-FEU.

The Paintmasters, getting a big lift from their frontliners, downed the Wizards, 69-64, to set a deciding Game Three in their duel.

Jon dan Salvador and Al Vergara erupted for 16 points apiece including six each in a decisive run late in the final canto as they sparkled for the Jewels. Alex Compton had 13 points.

Fil-Am Anthony Washington and Marvin Ortiguerra wrought havoc at the paint, combining for 31 points, 20 rebounds, eight assists and four steals as the Paint Masters avenged their 54-61 loss to the Wizards in Game 1 Saturday.

The two teams clash in a do-or-die contest in the same venue tomorrow.

"My players showed a lot of heart in this game," said the soft-spoken Welcoat coach Caloy Garcia, who is seeking to steer the Wellbest franchise to a second straight best-of-five championship appearance.

Ortiguerra sizzled with six points in the final canto while Washington made five charities in the last three minutes to lead the Paintmasters to the victory.

Arwind Santos led all scorers with 19 points but missed two field-goal attempts down the stretch to hasten their downfall.

Jason Misolas, who exploded with 16 points in Game 1, spewed fire in the first three quarters with 12 points but went scoreless the rest of the way.

"They stepped up in this game. They helped each other," said Garcia of Washington and Ortiguerra. "Kung ganyan ang gagawin nila at mag-step-up din sina Chester (Tolomia), we have a good chance on Thursday (tomorrow)."

Washington, among the amateur cagers being considered by coach Chot Reyes for the national pool, sank four charities that gave Welcoat a 68-62 cushion going into the final two minutes of play.

Warren Ybanez made it 64-67 on a mid-range jumper before stealing an inbounds pass by Washington to Eugene Tan then setting up Santos for a wide open shot.

Alas, Santos missed an undergoal stab and a tip-in.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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