TIGERS TRIP ACES
MANILA, March 11, 2006 (MALAYA) BY NOLI CORTEZ (Games Tomorrow (Araneta Coliseum) 4:10 p.m. Ė Air21 vs. TNT 6:30 p.m. Ė Ginebra vs. Sta. Lucia)
ALI Peek came up with a game for the ages against his former team and Coca-Cola is all the more better because of it.
Peek went a perfect 12-of-12 from the field to finish with 27 points and lead the Tigers to an 81-69 drubbing of Alaska last night for the solo lead in the Gran Matador-PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
With the rest of the Tigers doing their share on defense and riding Peekís back on the offensive end, the Tigers led by as many as 29 points before cruising to their second win in as many outings.
"Frankly, I didnít know that," said Peek, referring to the leagueís new all-time best that eclipsed his own 11-of-11 he made during his first year with Alaska on Aug. 1, 2001. "Iím just happy we won the game."
Achieving the feat against the team he played for from 2001 up to mid-2004 made it sweeter.
"Iíve had some good years with Alaska. But every time I step out on the court against them, I just wanna kill them. Iím sure they wanna kill me, too. But thatís just the competitive spirit we both have," he related with a smile.
Such smugness was not evident when Peek left the game with still some four minutes to go, even with his team safely ahead 76-57.
"I know Alaska is a very dangerous team, thatís why I was still nervous, even if weíre ahead by double digits" explained the burly, Hawaii-born Peek.
Tigers coach Binky Favis agreed with his ward, but pointed out there was really no cause for worry after his team unleashed one big first-half run and then led by as much as 55-26, 9:31 to go in the third period.
"The way the guys defended is commendable. We kept talking to each other, helping out each other. I was just sitting on the sidelines, enjoying myself," said Favis, whose charges opened their campaign with a 104-83 whipping of Air21 last Sunday.
"Such is the kind of team we have. Our game is keyed on defense and we get to anchor our offense off it."
The loss dropped Alaska to an even 1-1 win-loss slate and all because of a woeful first half in which it shot just 9-of-38 from the field.
Mike Cortez and Jeffrey Cariaso each scored 17 points to pace the Aces, whose comeback came late, mainly due to Coca-Colaís seven turnovers in the fourth period.
For a very long while, Peek could have stood on his own against his former team, especially during the first half.
While the 6-foot-5 lefty could not miss from the field, Alaska struggled from all over, especially during an eight-minute stretch spanning the first two quarters where the Aces missed all their 12 shots and committed five turnovers.
That led to a massive 18-0 run by the Tigers that gave them their first sizable lead at 36-14.
Cortezís triple from the left corner snapped the scoreless spell for the Aces, but that bright spot was a rarity for them in the second quarter where they made only three of 18 field tries.
Peek completed a three-point play and Antonio drained a trey of his own, sparking an 11-4 surge that made it 47-21.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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