HONG KONG, March 21, 2006
(BULLETIN) By noli cruz - The superb air-conditioning system at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium and the chilling weather in this former British Colony failed to cool down Willie Miller yesterday.

Miller scored a personal season-high 28 points off the bench to key the Talk ’N Text Phone Pals’ emphatic 88-66 victory over the Purefoods Chunkee Giants in the Gran Matador Brandy 2006 PBA Philippine Cup.

Over at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Coca-Cola stretched its winning run with a 75-72 decision over San Miguel Beer while Alaska Milk gained a share of third spot by outplaying Air21, 99-84.

It was the fourth straight win for the Tigers who handed the Beermen their second loss in four matches.

And as the Phone Pals finally broke into the win column, new head coach Derick Pumaren said he was more excited with the way his wards defended.

"We played excellent defense for 48 minutes," said Pumaren after notching his first win in his coaching comeback. "In our last game three quarters lang kami dumedepensa ng maayos."

He was referring to their 102-105 loss to the Air21 Express where they gave up 38 points in the fourth quarter.

"We needed this win badly. Kung natalo pa kami baka magkaroon ng doubt sa minds ng mga players. Mahirap na kapag naging psychological ang problema namin," related Pumaren.

His players showed how badly they wanted the win.

The Phone Pals led by as many as 25 points on a basket by Mark Cardona, 80-55, 5:48 to go.

But even with the lopsided result, the capacity crowd composed mostly of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) cheered non-stop, applauding every basket and fine defensive play.

With the win, the Phone Pals avoided their worst conference start in three years.

Incidentally, they also started 0-2 in the 2003 All-Filipino Cup – the only regular conference they have ruled.

There were some tense moments in the third period when the Giants pulled to within 49-52 on two free throws by Kerby Raymundo.

But the Phone Pals responded with a 12-0 run highlighted by Miller’s fifth triple for a 64-49 lead. They were never seriously threatened from there.

NOTES: The Phone Pals are now 2-0 in PBA out of the country games. They won over Shell Turbo Chargers, 97-88, during the Fiesta Conference last year in Jakarta, Indonesia… Purefoods team manager Alvin Patrimonio remains as one of the most popular basketball figures among Filipinos here. The four-time MVP received the loudest cheer from the fans during the introduction of team personnel…Some players greeted the crowd before the game, with Yap speaking in Ilonggo, Pingris in Ilocano, Ferriols in Bisaya and Miller in Tagalog.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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