DECEMBER 17, 2006
(STAR) The battle for the top seedings in the Talk n Text PBA Philippine Cup classification round rages on today with four prime contenders slugging it out at the Araneta Coliseum.

San Miguel Beer clashes with Talk n Text while Red Bull collides with Purefoods in a pair of heavyweight matches marking the fourth-to-the-last play date of the preliminaries.

The country’s heroes in the just-concluded Asian Games will be feted for their gallant efforts in Doha, Qatar as special guests of the league.

"We’ll be saluting the Filipino champions. We’ll give them due recognition," said PBA commissioner Noli Eala.

Boxing champions Violito Payla and Joan Tipon, wushu winner Rene Catalan and billiards victor Antonio Gabica have confirmed their attendance in a simple ceremony to be held in between games.

Boxing president Manny Lopez is accompanying his team that includes bronze medalists Genebert Basadre and Godfrey Castro. Catalan graces the occasion with wushu head Julian Camacho.

Before these Asiad heroes, the Beermen, the Bulls, the Giants and the Pals hope to show their own gallantry on the court in similar bids to enhance their final push for top seedings in the playoffs.

All four teams are still in the hunt for an outright slot in the semifinals and, if foiled, would chase automatic berth in the quarterfinals.

With an 11-5 win-loss record, San Miguel will already assure itself of a tie for second place with another win tonight.

"We just got lucky because the early leaders started losing. And since we’re in this position we might as well make the most out of it," said San Miguel coach Chot Reyes.

Barangay Ginebra has put one foot in the semifinals when it nailed a 12th win in a 109-89 spanking of Sta. Lucia Realty Friday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

Red Bull, Purefoods and Talk n Text are still in contention for the same spot but no longer have full control of their bids. They have to win all their last assignments and pray for defeats of other teams to accomplish their goal.

"We still can make it. We just have to stay focused in our last two games," said Purefoods coach Ryan Gregorio.

The reigning champion Giants rallied into contention as they won their last three games against the Coca-Cola Tigers, the Sta. Lucia Realtors and the Welcoat Dragons.

The Bulls slid to joint third with the Giants as they were stunned by the Air21 Express, 89-92, on Nov. 8.

The Pals, meanwhile, have been blowing hot and cold. They need to come out in full steam today or they might miss the Magic Five. They’re currently at sixth with a 9-7 record.

Beermen unplug Phone Pals, firm up semis bid By Nelson Beltran The Philippine Star 12/18/2006

San Miguel Beer strode closer to an outright entry into the Talk n Text PBA Philippine Cup semifinals by playing big in two quarters last night at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Beermen fought back from a 12-point deficit in the second quarter and stepped up their drive in the third period en route to a 114-102 thrashing of the Talk n Text Phone Pals, assuring SMB of a playoff crack at the semis in the All-Filipino tourney.

Outscoring the Pals by 28 points in the two middle quarters, the Beermen merely coasted along in the payoff period for their sixth straight victory and their 12th in 17 games.

"We expected them to come out strong coming from a weeklong rest. In our mind, if we’re able to withstand their early onslaught, we could have our chance later on. Basically, that’s what happened," said San Miguel coach Chot Reyes.

"We wish we can relax now but I think we still need to work hard on Christmas Day," added Reyes, looking forward to their final game in the double-round classifications against Air21.

Reyes was assuming either Red Bull or Purefoods would sweep its last two games to finish with 12 wins in the classifications for a possible playoff berth. A win over Air21 guarantees San Miguel automatic entry into the semis.

The loss, Talk n Text’s eighth against nine wins, dimmed the team’s hopes for a slot in the Magic Five.

A 32-point splurge in the second period followed by a 42-point explosion in the third carried the Beermen to the crucial win, putting them a half game behind the pacesetting Barangay Ginebra Kings (12-4).

Later in the night, the battle for the two outright semifinal berths simmered down among Barangay Ginebra, San Miguel Beer and Red Bull.

Red Bull eased reigning champion Purefoods Chunkee out of contention as the Barakos repeated over the Giants, 112-92.

The Beermen pulled even at 50-50 at halftime on their second-quarter assault and pulled away at 92-72 as they raged on in the third canto. Their 42 in the third tied the season’s best for a quarter which the Beermen themselves set last Nov. 29 in a 113-98 win over the Sta. Lucia Realtors.

Danny Seigle stood out in their third-quarter attack with 16 points and the prolific Fil-Am forward finished with 26 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block in 36 minutes of action.

As anticipated by Reyes, the Pals came out strong and took control early on.

But the Pals just couldn‚t keep step as the Beermen picked up their game in the second quarter with Danny Ildefonso, Dondon Hontiveros, Lordy Tugade and Olsen Racela also providing firepower for the team.

The Beermen wreaked much havoc in the third period while dominating the boards, 15-8, and shooting better from the field. San Miguel outscored Talk n Text, 42-22, in the pivotal quarter.

At the end, the Beermen amassed 64 rebounds to the Pals‚ 46. Curiously, the two teams were nearly tied in scoring percentage with San Miguel hitting at a 44.9 percent clip while Talk n Text converted 44.4 percent of its shots.

Don Allado scored 21 points to pace the Pals who also drew double-digit outputs from Asi Taulava (18), Jimmy Alapag (14), Renren Ritualo (14) and Harvey Carey (12).

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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