MANILA, MAY 4, 2006 (BULLETIN) By NOLI CRUZ - A BROKEN offensive turned highlight play typified the Sta. Lucia Realtors’ gritty 99-95 victory over Coca-Cola last night in the Gran Matador Brandy 2006 PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.

Alex Cabagnot, down on his pants, caught a loose ball and fed Marlou Aquino for an undergoal stab and a 96-86 Realtors lead, sending their bench and fans into a frenzied celebration, 1:49 to go.

That kind of hustle and an efficient shooting night from Aquino led to the Realtors’ third win in 11 games. The Tigers, who seemed to be losing the bite of their once mighty defense, absorbed their third straight loss for a 6-5 record.

In the nightcap, Alaska Milk boosted its quarterfinals bid by downing Talk ’N Text, 92-89.

With the win, the Aces, who drew 24-points from Jeffrey Cariaso, tied their victims and idle Red Bull for fourth to six places at 5-6. The top two teams after the elims will automatically advance to the semis while the next three teams will be seeded in the quarters.

"We may be losing many games pero hindi mawawala ‘yung effort namin para manalo," said Realtors coach Alfrancis Chua, whose team remained in the cellar in the 10-team field.

Aquino, hobbled by a calf muscle injury, had 16 points and six rebounds for the Realtors. He made 8-of-10 shots and got his long overdue 900th shot block somewhere in the first half. His injury prevented him from reaching the milestone in the past three games.

But it was the rookie Cabagnot, who engineered their breakaway. The peppery playmaker assisted on three field goals by the Realtors in a 13-3 run that broke the game open.

He finished with seven assists and scored all of his 10 points after the break.

Ali Peek, showing no ill-effect of a sore left knee, scored 18 points for the Tigers. But he had another reason to sit out longer than usual – foul trouble.

He played only 10 minutes in the first half as he picked up two fouls in the first and another one shortly after his return in the second. Worse, Peek got his fourth foul in the opening minute of the third, forcing Tigers coach Binky Favis to freeze his MVP for the rest of the period.

The scores:

STA. LUCIA 99 – Tolomia 17, Aquino 16, Omolon 12, Torion 11, Cabagnot 10, Espino 10, Mendoza 9, Gonzales 5, Calimag 4, Santos 3, Catli 2.

COCA-COLA 95 – Antonio 22, Peek 18, Singson 10, Reavis 9, Miranda 8, Mamaril 7, Wainwright 7, Abarrientos 7, Arigo 7.

Quarters: 28-29, 41-51, 73-77, 99-95.

Second Game

ALASKA 92 – Cariaso 24, Cortez 18, Allado 18, Dela Cruz 9, Belasco 9, Thoss 8, Hugnatan 3, Wilson 2, Bajar 1.

TALK 'N TEXT 89 – Miller 24, Alapag 21, Pablo 15, Belano 8, Carey 6, Juinio 5, Cardona 4, Ferriols 4, Meneses 2, Avenido 0, Taulava 0.

Quarters: 12-13, 43-38, 69-65, 92-89.

Battle for semis slots intensifies (BULLETIN) May 4, 2006

THE RACE for the two outright semifinal berths intensifies further today as Rain or Shine and Toyota Otis try to cancel each other’s throat even as Harbour Centre goes for its third straight win in the 2006 PBL Unity Cup at the Olivarez Sports Center in Parañaque.

Tied for second to third places at 7-3, the Elasto Painters and Sparks are expected to pull all the stops when they clash at 4 p.m. in a game anticipated by many to be as emotional and exciting as their previous game.

Though the Elasto Painters beat the Sparks in the first round, 73-67, coach Leo Austria won’t take the Sparks lightly, saying they went through the proverbial eye of the needle before getting past the Louie Alas-mentored squad.

Alas is hoping that his boys will play a lot better and smarter this time in the hope of getting back at the Elasto Painters who are out to close their storied amateur campaign on a high note.

"Every game is important for us, if we can beat Rain or Shine that will be a good indication for the team," said Alas. "Rain or Shine is a tough team but we will do everything to beat them."

Clashing in the first game at 2 p.m. are Harbour Centre and Hapee-PCU. The Port Masters have a 4-6 record while the Teethmasters have dropped to 7th at 3-7 after losing their last four games.

The Port Masters are coming off impressive back-to-back wins, the latest was a stunning 59-56 win over the Elasto Painters last Sunday. But the Port Masters will have their hands full against Teethmasters who are seeking to end a four-game losing run.

Apart from Hapee’s hunger, Harbour Centre will be playing without top gunner Joseph Yeo who will be serving out his one-game suspension.

The high-leaping Harbour Centre guard meted out a one-game suspension for his unsportmanlike foul committed on Gilbert Malababan last Thursday.

Without Yeo, who averaged close to 15 points, coach Jorge Gallent is expected to rely much on vastly-improvingt Chico Lanete, LA Tenorio, Jerome Paterno, Jay Coching and Robert Reyes for the scoring load.

"We have to make do with what we have in the team. Joseph is our main man but if we can put our acts together then we have a good chance," said Gallent, who is out to avenge their 63-68 loss to the Teethmasters the last time out.

Hapee coach Junel Baculi must draw big games from his big guns – Gabby Espinas, Jason Castro and Robert Sanz to stop their bleeding.

Austria’s biggest concern is how to stop the dynamic duo of Boyet Bautista and Joe Calvin Devance. The 6-foot-7 Devance, who is making his final tour of duty as an amateur, is averaging 15.8 points and 8.9 rebounds while the wily 5-foot7 Bautista had normed 9.78 points.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved