TnT  VOWS  WIN  WITH  OR  WITHOUT  ASI

MANILA, February 3, 2005 
(STAR) By Nelson Beltran  -  Talk n Text management said yesterday it’s deciding on the status of Asi Taulava on a game-to-game basis with the legal battle between the alleged "Fil-sham" and the Philippine Basketball Association still pending in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.

Thus, just like in Game Two, whether Taulava would suit up or sit out today’s Game Three of the Gran Matador PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven title playoff between Barangay Ginebra and Talk n Text would be known minutes before opening tip-off.

Game time is at 7:10 p.m. at the Araneta Coliseum with the Kings going for a three-game-to-nil lead following a victory by forfeiture in Game One and a 106-105 squeaker in Game Two.

Firmly believing Game One belonged to them, the TnT management appealed PBA commissioner Noli Eala’s forfeiture verdict to the league board of governors last night. Board chairman Buddy Encarnado promised to act with dispatch on the Pals’ appeal.

Without abandoning its previous arguments, Talk n Text took a step backward Wednesday, deciding to play without Taulava in the interest of the league and the fans.

Talk n Text board representative Ricky Vargas, however, said it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will sit out Taulava for the rest of the finals. He said: "We’ll decide whether to play Asi or not on a game-to-game basis."

With Taulava’s status uncertain, coach Joel Banal prepared his team playing Game Three with and without Taulava in their roster.

With or without the 6-foot-8 behemoth, Banal thinks they must play an up-tempo game if they’re to beat the Kings and salvage the series while staring at a 0-2 deficit now.

"We have to run. We have to keep on doing that, the whole game if possible, to be able to have a good chance at beating them," said Banal.

Ginebra showed how potent a team it is in a half-court game Wednesday with the imposing presence of Eric Menk at the posts and clutch shooters Rodney Santos, Mark Caguioa and Sunday Salvacion scattered on the floor.

The Kings escaped with the one-point decision in Game Two despite being outscored by 10 points by the Phone Pals in fastbreak plays.

"For sure, coach Joel knows where we’re looking at. That’s why for sure, it’s gonna be tougher on Game Three," said Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen.

"They’ve proven in the elims that they fight hard even with a depleted lineup. They keep on fighting and playing hard, so we really have to come out ready to take their challenge," Tanquingcen added.

Indeed, Talk n Text also possesses a never-say-die attitude, which the Phone Pals underscored in winning the 2004 All-Filipino championship after trailing 0-2 in the same best-of-seven series versus the Coca-Cola Tigers.

Banal believes they can do that trick all over again.

"We just have to take it one game at a time and treat each game like it’s the last game of our lives. If we do that, then we have a chance," said Banal.

"Nothing is impossible. But what we really want to do now is to beat them, learn to beat them without forfeiting a game," Banal added.

Banal lauded his players for giving the Kings a tough challenge Wednesday although badly demoralized on the forfeiture of their Game One win.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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