PBA: SHELL BOOTS OUT STA. LUCIA
MANILA, June 13, 2005 (MALAYA) BY NOLI CORTEZ - SHELL took a different route yet achieved the same result, beating Sta. Lucia Realty 87-85 last night to complete its rise from the grave in the Gran Matador-PBA Fiesta Conference at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Turbo Chargers again relied on defense in overcoming a twice-to-win disadvantage against the Realtors.
But unlike in last Friday’s 85-74 win, in which Shell used its trapping defense and unrelenting press to unleash and fuel a searing run at the start of the fourth period, the team reaped dividends at crunch time this time.
The Realtors were limited to just one field goal in their last nine possessions, enabling the Turbo Chargers to come out on top despite blowing as much as an 11-point lead.
"I told the boys: ‘Let’s show them we deserve to be in this league,’" said Shell coach Leo Austria, whose team finished the qualification phase in ninth place.
Austria also gave all the credit to his seemingly indefatigable charges, who gutted it out despite the fouling out of import Ajani Williams in the final 3:17 of the game.
Typifying Shell’s grit and Sta. Lucia’s self-destruction came after Shell’s Tony dela Cruz missed two free throws that could have given the Turbo Chargers a four-point lead in the final 7.5 seconds.
But Dela Cruz atoned for that miss by harassing Boyet Fernandez in the backcourt, forcing the latter to pass off to Ryan Fletcher. Inexplicably, the Realtor import heaved the ball from 75 feet away with a good two seconds still left on the clock.
Shell now faces the winner of last night’s other game pitting Purefoods and FedEx in the best-of-three quarterfinals starting tomorrow. The other pairing features early qualifiers Red Bull Barako and Alaska.
"Whichever team we face, siguradong mage-enjoy ang mga bata," said Austria. "For sure, this team, with the line-up we have, just getting to the quarterfinals is an achievement enough."
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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