OCTOBER 23, 2006
(MALAYA) BY NOLI CORTEZ - Games Wednesday (Araneta Coliseum) 4:35 p.m. – TNT vs. Purefoods 7:30 p.m. – Sta. Lucia vs. Red Bull

FIRST, Air21 gave Welcoat all the respect it deserves. Then the Express gave the newcomers a neat spanking.

With Gary David and Ronald Tubid taking turns catching fire, Air21 dealt Welcoat a 110-94 drubbing last night in the Talk N Text PBA Philippine Cup at the Astrodome.

Gary David hit his first nine shots from the floor to finish with a game-high 24 while Tubid scattered 15 of his 21 in the fourth quarter as the Express improved their win-loss record to 2-3 and moved into a tie with their victim and idle Purefoods Chunkee.

Coach Bo Perasol credited most of the win to his charges taking to heart his pre-game talk about not taking the Dragons for granted.

"I told them the teams that didn’t give Welcoat the respect it deserves suffered. I also told them Welcoat can beat any team in this league," said

Perasol, whose charges opened up the conference with three straight losses before scoring a 127-110 breakthrough win over Talk N Text last Wednesday.

Perasol’s worst fears nearly became a reality in the third quarter when the Dragons, who trailed by 39-53 late in the second quarter, came charging back to threaten within 62-65 and 64-67.

But the menace fizzled out as quickly as it materialized as Air21’s running game again came to the fore while Welcoat simply ran out of steam.

Erwin Sotto’s short jumper started an 11-4 run capped by Ranidel de Ocampo’s four straight points to make it a 78-68 count.

Starting the fourth quarter, the Dragons missed six of their first seven shots from the field and committed four turnovers while Tubid scored 11 points, including nine straight, to peg the game’s biggest difference at 95-72, still 7:45 left in the game.

"Na-overpower lang talaga kami," said Dragons coach Leo Austria after his team failed to follow up on its surprise 96-88 win over San Miguel Beer last Sunday.

"Bukod ke David at Ronald (Tubid), si Ranidel kayang umi-score kapag ginusto. Mahirap talagang talunin iyan."

Perasol said his players also followed most of their game plan to the letter. "Nagawa namin ang gusto namin, which is maka-depensa at makatakbo," he said.

De Ocampo, who scored a career-high 33 points against the Phone Pals, still finished with 17 points despite being limited to just seven points in the first half while rookie sensation Arwind Santos notched a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Jercules Tangkay and Rob Wainwright each scored 15 points while Junjun Cabatu had 13 points and 11 rebounds for Welcoat.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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