KFC  PBA:  ACES  SILENCE  TEXTERS,  GAIN 3-2  LEAD

PHOTO AT LEFT -
Alaska’s Joachim Thoss (right) fakes and draws a foul from TnT’s Ali Peek in Game Five of the KFC PBA Philippine Cup finals. JUN MENDOZA.

MANILA, FEBRUARY 8, 2009 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Conference best player Willie Miller knocked in a big triple to make up for two crucial errors down the stretch as Alaska Milk snapped a two-game slide and moved in the threshold of the KFC PBA Philippine Cup championship with a 95-93 cliffhanger over Talk n Text last night at the Astrodome.

Talk n Text had a chance to salvage the game but Renren Ritualo misfired his own three-point try then Harvey Carey missed a tip-in in the last eight seconds.

“They sagged on Sonny Thoss, giving me an opening to shoot, so I took the shot. Luckily, it went it. In earlier plays, I was taking some time to attack only to fumble,” said Miller, whose back-to-back errors earlier allowed the Tropang Texters to surge ahead at 91-90.

“We’re really lucky Willie made that shot. Good for him and I feel good for him. He would have been crushed had we lost the game,” said Alaska coach Tim Cone.

“I’m surprised he (prematurely) took that shot. But he’s feeling it. Willie’s gutsy. And that’s why he’s an MVP,” Cone added.

Talk n Text coach Chot Reyes blamed himself for what he called “stupid defensive plays” he designed for the team at endgame.

The Aces pulled through and gained the pivotal 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series despite the loss of Jeffrey Cariaso on a hamstring injury sustained in Game Four.

Minus Cariaso, Miller, Sonny Thoss, Larry Fonacier, Joe Devance, LA Tenorio and Reynel Hugnatan all exerted extra effort, each one churning out significant numbers.

Fonacier finally made his presence felt in the series, logging 15 points and six rebounds while LA Tenorio checked a personal slump, logging a double-double with 12 assists and 10 points.

Hugnatan had his own double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds with Thoss, Miller and Devance combining for 46 points, 22 rebounds and 12 assists.

Mark Cardona scored a game-high 23 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter, fueling a Talk n Text rally from early double-digit deficits.

Cardona himself rifled in a trey, giving TnT the lead for the first time, 91-90, after squandering a 13-8 advantage in the first period.

Talk n Text started the game with an 11-2 run but Alaska countered with a big attack, enjoying two 14-point spreads – 31-17 and 33-19 – right in the opening quarter.

Miller and Thoss spearheaded Alaska’s first-quarter salvo, then Fonacier took over in the second period as Alaska sat on a 51-43 cushion at halftime.

Hugnatan was good for only four points but he was a tower of power in rebounds, leading Alaska in dominating the boards, 33-16, in the first 24 minutes of play.

Miller banged in a three-pointer then took a steal, setting up LA Tenorio for a lay-up to close Alaska’s dizzying 29-6 roll from a 2-11 count.

Going without a basket for about four minutes, the Texters went to Yousif Aljamal to break the spell.

Aljamal, who had a previous conference-high of 11 points, made nine towards the end of the first quarter and finished the half with 12 on 2-of-2 shooting from the three-point land, 2-of-4 from the two-point zone and 2-of-2 from the stripe. 


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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