MANILA, JUNE 29, 2006 (MALAYA) BY NOLI CORTEZ - (Games Tomorrow (Astrodome) 4:40 p.m. – Red Bull vs. SMB 7:35 p.m. - Purefoods vs. Alaska)

PUREFOODS Chunkee’s battle-cry of late has been to live for another day.

This worked last night as the Giants beat the Alaska Aces 85-74 to stay alive in their Gran Matador Brandy-PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series at the Araneta Coliseum.

The victory, however, merely narrowed the Giants’ deficit in the best-of-seven duel at 2-3 and this was not lost on coach Ryan Gregorio.

"We’re still alive, but that’s it. Our battlecry before this game has been ‘See you on Friday,’ and we only made that possible," said Gregorio, uncharacteristically solemn during the post-game interview.

The Giants rejoiced after scoring an 82-79 decision in Game Three last Friday but were handily beaten the following game. The thought keeps Gregorio’s feet firmly on the ground.

"This is a big win, but we really haven’t done anything yet. That’s why I told my players there’s really no reason for us to celebrate," he said.

What pleases Gregorio more was not the way James Yap scored 20 points, including a clutch shotclock-beater that completely turned the tide in Purefoods’ favor. The youthful mentor was more satisfied with the way his charges managed to pull off defensive stops, especially after Alaska had crawled back from a 49-58 count and threatened at 58-60.

"The real key for us is still defense. That’s the way it should be in the next game at least," he said.

Nic Belasco led Alaska with 19 points, but he and the rest all went silent in the last 1:55 of the game after Willie Miller’s drive made it a 74-82 count.

Veterans Jun Limpot, Rey Evangelista, Richard Yee and Noy Castillo also played big roles in the win, making up for the sub-par performances by Kerby Raymundo and Marc Pingris who were slowed down by fouls early.

Yap’s triple, following Castillo’s mid-range jumper and Roger Yap’s twisting banked shot, gave Purefoods a 67-58 cushion going into the fourth quarter.

The Giants were far from done as Castillo, Evangelista and Limpot made it a 75-66 count before James Yap’s near-triple heave from the left corner that Aces coach Tim Cone vehemently protested.

Cone argued the shot should not have been counted due to what he deemed as an illegal pick given by Raymundo, entering the court to stress his point.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved