MANILA, January 30, 2006
(MALAYA) BY NOLI CORTEZ - Games Wednesday (Araneta Coliseum) 4:40 p.m. Ė Purefoods vs. Air21 7:25 p.m. Ė Red Bull vs. Ginebra

RED Bull found an old connection that proved rewarding and Ginebra, for the second straight game, failed to rise to the challenge.

Ateneo teammates Larry Fonacier and Enrico Villanueva hooked up anew last night as the Bulls scored an 88-85 win and moved within another win of making it to the finals of the San Mig Coffee-PBA Fiesta Conference at the Araneta Coliseum.

Fonacier and Villanueva combined for 46 points, powering Red Bull to its second straight win and an imposing 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Fonacier shattered a two-day-old career-high by scoring 25 points and Villanueva wound up with 21 points and nine rebounds, the most crucial coming at the crunch that capped the Bullsí raging wind-up.

"This win is a big confidence booster for us. We will keep our focus and try to close it out on Wednesday," Bulls coach Yeng Guiao said.

Red Bull import James Penny played his worst game yet but this failed to dampen the teamís win. After averaging 25.5 points and 17.7 rebounds in the seriesí first three games, Penny scored only 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds before being ejected for a second technical foul with 4:27 left in the game.

"We have proven ourselves today by finding ways to win despite our import not having a good day," said Guiao. "There were a lot of adversities. They were insurmountable at times, but the resiliency of the team prevailed."

Ginebra import Chris Porter did not exactly have a game to brag about either. He did have 13 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists but fouled out with 3:41 left on a useless backcourt foul on Topex Robinson.

That incident only highlighted the Kingsí listless game that not even a nine-point fourth quarter lead and a sterling game from reserve guard Aris Dimaunahan could offset as they completely went blank in the final two minutes.

Dimaunahan, Ginebraís 26th pick overall in the 2002 draft, had his best game yet in the tournament with 18 points and Jay-Jay Helterbrand had the same total.

But Mark Caguioa, Helterbrandís fiery backcourt partner who boldly predicted a Ginebra rebound from an 85-93 Game 3 loss, could only come up with nine points.

Also failing to live up to expectations were Eric Menk and Romel Adducul who combined for 19 rebounds but only 14 points, aside from being completely outplayed by Villanueva in the stretch.

After Mick Pennisi made it 80-85, Villanueva accounted for all of Red Bullís last 10 points, scoring eight and feeding Fonacier for the other two.

After the 6-foot-5 former UAAP MVPís charities made it an 88-85 count, still two ticks left, Ginebra fired the final shot on its foot when Michael Holper threw away the inbound pass off a timeout.

Ugly incidents pockmarked the match that was played before another overflow crowd.

Scuffles, second motions and illegal moves led to technical fouls also being slapped on Porter, Junthy Valenzuela and Mark Caguioa while Pennisi was also slapped a flagrant foul for an errant elbow to Menkís nape.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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