TnT  RELENTS,   PULLS  OUT  TULAVA   /  KINGS  GAIN  2  WINS - OFF, ON  COURT

MANILA, February 3, 2005 
(STAR) Despite the raging Asi Taulava case, the PBA show went on last night.

Talk n Text took a step backward by deciding to play without Taulava in Game Two of the Gran Matador PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven title playoff versus Barangay Ginebra at the Araneta Coliseum. However, the Talk n Text management stressed itís not abandoning the fight and only decided to continue with the championship games in the interest of the league and the public.

Talk n Text board representative Ricky Vargas said they would appeal to the PBA board today league commissioner Noli Ealaís decision to forfeit the Palsí Game One win in favor of the Kings and to effectively continue the suspension of Taulava. "The Talk n Text management strongly disagrees with the decision of the commissioner and will therefore protest it," said Vargas in a hastily-called press conference minutes before Game Two of the title playoff. "I welcome that," said Eala. "Thatís part of the process."

The TnT coaching staff and the players were advised of the management decision only about an hour before game time with Taulava already in uniform at the dugout. Vargas, with team manager Frankie Lim and corporate affairs legal spokesperson Ray Espinosa, advised the team after a one-on-one meeting with league board chairman Buddy Encarnado. "It is an extreme sacrifice made by Talk n Text management not to field Asi. At this point, allow me to express my personal gratitude to the governor of the franchise who never lost patience and desire to come out with a solution in the pending problem," said Encarnado.

"The mere fact that Talk n Text went through this process of appealing the commissionerís decision shows they adhere to the wills of the league," Encarnado added.

There were reports that the PLDT franchise had thought of pulling out of the league. "To avoid any disruption of the championship games and to ensure the publicís continuing support to the games, the Talk n Text team will not field Asi Taulava in todayís game. This decision was reached with great pain and sacrifice because Asi has every right to play in the game given the clear order and command of the Quezon City court, which the PBA commissioner continues to defy openly and brazenly," said Vargas.

"We leave it to the court to vindicate the rights of Taulava particularly with respect to the latest decision of the PBA commissioner to effectively continue the suspension. The management stands behind Asi and is fully committed to support him in his continuing quest for justice," Vargas added. On the forfeiture of their Game One win, Vargas said: "Game One belongs to us. The fans know that." 

Kings gain two wins ó off, on court By Nelson Beltran The Philippine Star 02/03/2005

Barangay Ginebra once again got Talk n Textís number with Asi Taulava back in the sideline, hacking out a gripping 106-105 victory to gain a two-game-to-nil advantage in the Gran Matador PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven title showdown at the Araneta Coliseum last night.

Eric Menk scored on a driving semi-hook with five seconds left to play for the go-ahead basket then the Kings foiled the Palsí make-or-break offensive thrusts in the ensuing plays to complete the one-point decision to the delight of Ginebraís cheering throngs. That gave the Kings the 2-0 lead in the series as the Commissionerís Office reversed Tuesday night the outcome of Game One Sunday, affirming Ginebraís protest on Talk n Textís fielding of a suspended player in Taulava. Talk n Text is to appeal commissioner Noli Ealaís decision to the board of governors today.

With the win by forfeiture Sunday and the follow-up victory last night, the Kings have a chance to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series in Game Three tomorrow in the same venue. "Itís far from over. Theyíve proven that theyíre a fighting team. Itís still a matter of execution," said Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen. "Tonight, we should thank Eric (Menk). He showed that great players make good plays at endgame and step up during the playoffs," Tanquingcen added.

Menk emerged the Kingsí man of the hour as he took matters into his hands in the closing seconds and won it for Ginebra. With two fouls to give and with only five seconds left in the clock, the Kings wisely used their fouls and left Willie Miller with no recourse but to throw a prayer of a shot, signaling a frenzied celebration of the Ginebra fans in the gallery. Menk finished with a huge double-double game with 27 points and 11 rebounds and got the needed support from Mark Caguioa, Rodney Santos, Andy Seigle, Sunday Salvacion and Romel Adducul who all finished in double figures.

Aris Dimaunahan added eight points but nearly became the goat for Ginebra as he took an ill-advised three-pointer, stopping a fierce exchange of baskets between the two teams with Talk n Text ahead at 105-104. But the Phone Pals failed to deliver what could have been a back-breaker in the ensuing play, and the Kings got the opportunity to win the game as Caguioa pulled down the rebounds following a missed three-point attempt by Jimmy Alapag with 8.6 ticks left. Then came Menk striking for the game-winning basket.

Miller tripple-double game of 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists went down the drain as his desperation shot at the buzzer going just wide. "We made a mistake. I though weíre ready," said Talk n Text coach Joel Banal. On their 0-2 deficit in the series, Banal said: "Weíll take it one game at a time. Take it like itís always our last game. Itís hard but itís not impossible to do."


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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