PBL  FINALS:  DO OR DIE FOR MAGNOLIA, WELCOAT

MANILA, June 7, 2005 
(STAR) Magnolia and Welcoat clash today for the right to face Montana in the finals of the PBL Unity Cup at the Pasig Sports Center.

The Wizards trounced the Paint Masters, 80-72, Saturday to force a sudden death match at 3:30 p.m. with the winner taking on the Montana Jewels in a best-of-five title showdown at the Astrodome.

Focus will be on the keenly-awaited duel between Fil-Ams Anthony Washington of Welcoat and Kelly Williams of Magnolia.

Washington, however, will have to step up big this time as he was outscored anew by the high-leaping Williams, 13-7, in Game 3.

The Wizards took Game 1, 75-62, but the Paint Masters, with a one-game advantage after finishing second behind the Jewels at the end of the elims, bounced back with a 76-65 triumph, thanks to Washington’s 17 point-performance.

Washington, one of the leading candidates for the MVP plum, must step up and lead his team to the championship again if he wants to boost his stock in the coming annual draft pick of the pro league.

A Welcoat win would send the Paint Masters to the finals for the 11th time since joining the league in1996. In 10 finals appearances, Welcoat won six times, the last in 2002 with Rommel Adducul leading the team.

But the Paint Masters, especially Washington, will have their hands full against the Wizards who played so fluidly the last time that almost everybody had their own share for the team’s winning cause.

"Our desire to win is much stronger this time," said Magnolia coach Koy Banal who is out to steer the Wizards to their third finals stint. "But for us to win, we have to keep our intensity because Welcoat is also a veteran team.

Aside from Williams, Banal is also banking on the experience of Santos, Denok Miranda and Neil Raneses.

The 6-foot-4 Santos finished with 15 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and an assist while Miranda and Raneses each had 15 points in a brilliant show of firepower.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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