(STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Coca-Cola accomplished what it fell short of doing against Air21 the last time out, hacking out a stirring come-from-behind 94-90 win over Alaska Milk last night in the Talk n Text PBA Fiesta Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Tigers mounted a searing fourth-quarter rally, overcoming a 15-point deficit as they stayed in the fight for an outright quarterfinals seat on their sixth win in 14 games.

Coach Binky Favis and his troops should have been tied with Talk n Text now at fifth place if not for their failure to complete a similar come-from-behind win versus the Express last Wednesday.

Nevertheless, Favis considered that game “character-builder” which they nurtured against the Aces last night.

“The boys just continued to show the character we’re really trying to build. I like what the boys have been showing at endgame as of late,” said Favis, who dedicated the win to his mother Rosemarie and wife Ella.

The Aces missed a crack at tying the Barangay Ginebra Kings in the lead and instead slid to joint third with Red Bull at 9-5. Air21 seized solo second at 9-4.

Mike Cortez returned from the injured list, logging four points in 11 minutes of action.

Coca-Cola shot 66.7 percent from the field as against the Alaska’s 27.3 percent clip as the Tigers made a big turnaround in the fourth period, erasing a 61-74 deficit after the first three quarters of play.

Purefoods raced to a 25-point lead at the half and hang tough in the face of Ginebra’s spirited chase in the last two quarters, hacking out a 117-105 win in the nightcap.

Dealing the Kings their first back-to-back losses in the tourney, the Giants improved their record to 4-11.

The Tigers outscored the Aces, 33-16, in the payoff period with Jeff Varem making nine points and five rebounds, Williams Antonio eight points and three rebounds and Alex Cabagnot seven points, three assists and two rebounds in their decisive attack.

Varem finished with a total of 22 points and 18 rebounds with Cabagnot adding a personal conference-high of 18 points, nine assists and four rebounds.

Ali Peek 19 points and seven rebounds and John Arigo 18 points and four rebounds.

In what proved to be the turning point of the contest, Cabagnot issued a great assist to Varem for a three-point play off Sonny Thoss, giving Coca-Cola an 87-83 lead with time down to 1:44.

Alaska actually narrowed the deficit down to two on a jumper by Willie Miller but Coca-Cola answered with lethal 6-0 binge by Arigo, Varem and Cabagnot to all but wrap up the game at 93-85.

The Tigers outhustled the Aces in making a crucial assault at endgame, pulling down big offensive rebounds that frustrated Alaska from coming back into the contest.

“I really thought how well we’re going to compete off the boards would be the key. We’re carried through by our rebounds in this game,” said Favis.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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