DECEMBER 29, 2008
(STAR) By Nelson Beltran - San Miguel Beers Mick Pennisi, right, wrestles with Cokes Asi Taulava as they battle for the rebound during first half action at the Big Dome. FERNAN NEBRES San Miguel Beer and Air21 survived the initial stage of the KFC PBA Philippine Cup wildcard round, beating Coca-Cola and Purefoods, respectively, yesterday at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Beermen whipped the Tigers, 99-89, while the Express walloped the Giants, 94-82, to live to fight another day in the post-eliminations play of the all-Filipino tourney.

The Beermen and the Express collide in another knockout setto at 6 p.m. on Jan. 4 also at the Big Dome with the winner advancing to the quarterfinal round against the Barangay Ginebra Kings.

Coca-Cola and Purefoods became the second and third teams eliminated in the tourney after Red Bull.

The Express completely dominated the Giants throughout with the team posting a 24-point margin on a basket by new recruit Cyrus Baguio, 94-70.

Air21, behind Gary David, who had 20 points, Wynne Arboleda, firing 17 and Arwind Santos with a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds, then coasted to the decisive win.

Dondon Hontiveros had a solid all around game with 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists while Danny Seigle recovered from slump and contributed 16 points and seven rebounds cushioning the impact of the double-double numbers put up by Asi Taulava in his return from a three-game layoff due to a fractured left middle finger.

The Beermen established control early and held sway to the finish against the Tigers who struggled minus Nic Belasco.

Were living by the day but we dont regret what happened in the elims. Were taking care of whats in front of us. We just want to be sure we exert our best effort and come what may, said San Miguel coach Siot Tanquingcen.

Lordy Tugade and Dorian Pea also scored in double figures for the Beermen who built double-digit spreads right in the first quarter and led by as many as 21 in the third quarter before completing the win which snapped their three-game skid in the elimination round.

Facing the specter of elimination, Coca-Cola interim coach Kenneth Duremdes was forced to use Taulava although the Fil-Tongan behemoth was still hurt.

But Taulava bucked the injury, piling up 10 points to rally the Tigers within seven in the fourth quarter.

Hontiveros and Olsen Racela rifled in clutch baskets as the Beermen foiled the Coca-Cola fightback to stay in the hunt for the all-Filipino crown.

San Miguel outhustled Coca-Cola, beating the Tigers by 14 on points off turnovers.

I knew we had to work hard. Theres no pushover team in the league. Mas mahirap kung kumpleto sila, said Tanquingcen.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved