(STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Just as they seemed to have gotten the right formula to battle the Sta. Lucia Realtors, the Purefoods Giants found themselves in trouble again with top gun James Yap meted a one-game suspension for his flagrant foul on Joseph Yeo towards the end of Game Three Wednesday.

Yap will serve the suspension as Purefoods and Sta. Lucia clash in Game Four of their Smart PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven title confrontation at the Araneta Coliseum tonight.

The Realtors are seeking to regain a two-game advantage while the Giants are gunning for an equalizer in the 7 p.m. contest.

Before the game, the Best Player of the Conference will be announced with Sta. Lucia’s Kelly Williams tipped to clinch the honors.

Yap, the Purefoods leading scorer averaging 25.3 points a game, was given a severe sanction that included a fine of P20,000 as he hacked Yeo on the face with the game already in the bag for the Giants Wednesday.

Purefoods coach Ryan Gregorio was surprised by the Commissioner’s Office decision, saying Yap’s suspension will definitely have a bearing in the series.

“I’m shocked. I never realized they could come up with that decision. I don’t think James’ action merited a stiff sanction,” said Gregorio. “I’m just a coach and it’s beyond me but I think the suspension would destroy the beauty of the series.”

Gregorio also said they were not able to prepare for Game Four playing without Yap since the decision was handed out a little late.

“I’m dazed. All we can do is to keep on fighting,” Gregorio said.

Before the verdict was made, the protagonists were talking much about officiating – much more than the game.

They just can’t and won’t agree on how fouls should be called with the offensive-oriented team wanting the referees to call it tight and the defensive-minded side hoping the refs to be more lenient.

“If they call it the right way, we’ll win,” said Gregorio who was so intense in Game Three he was after the referees practically all night.

“I was really confused in the first two games. I’d had sleepless nights because I don’t know how they’re gonna call it. I just realized I have to constantly remind them to call the infractions. Suddenly, they’re seeing the grabs and the pushes,” said Gregorio.

Seventy-seven fouls were called in Game Three, compared to 60 in Game One and 66 in Game Two.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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