PBA FIESTA CUP: TIGERS NEUTRALIZE HOTDOGS BEHEMOTH
MANILA, May 5, 2005 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Coca-Cola made a good job in neutralizing Purefoodsí 7-foot-1 import Lorenzo Coleman despite the absence of 6-foot-8 center-forward Rafi Reavis, hacking out a 95-86 win in the Gran Matador PBA Fiesta Cup at the Araneta Coliseum last night.
The Tigers limited Coleman to six points in the first three quarters of play and came up with more than enough cushion as the Purefoods behemoth became productive in the payoff period, pulling off the win that drew them level with the Sta. Lucia Realtors and the Ginebra Kings at eighth place with identical 5-7 win-loss cards.
"We used to have a seven-footer (Darrell Johns) as an import, so we know how to play a seven-footer. We used that knowledge to our advantage," said Coca-Cola coach Eric Altamirano.
"We know that a seven-footer is slow and operates mainly in the paint. Thatís why we played well against him (Coleman). Even Manny Ramos did a good job defending Coleman," Altamirano added.
Ramos, Cokeís third-string center out of La Salle, played extended minutes with Reavis coming to the venue with his right ankle on a soft cast. The national team aspirant suffered an ankle sprain in their last game against the Alaska Aces.
Ramos, Ali Peek and Poch Juinio alternated on taking on Coleman, limiting the debuting Purefoods import to nine rebounds while combining for 14 of their own.
The Tigers played a fast-paced offensive game with the Hotdogs slowed down by Coleman.
The Tigers had crucial baskets on fast breaks as they made a telling 15-8 closing run to win the game convincingly.
Mark Sanford, John Arigo, Peek and Dale Singson carried much of the scoring load for the Tigers, combining for all but 21 of the teamís total output. Noy Castillo, meanwhile, paced the Hotdogs with 18 points.
Arigo sank two charities then scored on a short jumper, touching off Cokeís key closing run.
The Hotdogs came within two points at 78-80 on a six-point binge by Kerby Raymundo and Coleman before the Tigers made the endgame romp.
"Itís an important win for us considering weíre in a tight schedule right now. Itís a key win as weíre about to play Talk n Text Friday," said Altamirano.
Meanwhile, Alaska Milk stakes its hold of the solo lead versus erstwhile frontrunner San Miguel Beer in a rare Thursday out-of-town double-header at the Ynares Center in Antipolo today.
FedEx and Sta. Lucia Realty clash in the other game with both teams seeking to improve their records in the middle of the chart.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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