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Philippine Basketball Association

PBA: Giants tie Realtors at 2-all in finals series

February 23, 2008 12:58am
The Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants blasted the Sta. Lucia Realtors, 106-98, to tie their best-of-seven series at 2- all at the 2007-08 Smart-PBA Philippine Cup championship series on Friday before a full-house crowd at the Araneta Coliseum.

Game 5 of the PBA finals is scheduled for Sunday (February 24) also at the Big Dome with Purefoods gunning for a third-straight victory that will put them one game ahead of their foe.

Former PBA MVP James Yap scattered a conference-high 32 points to lead his team to the all-important victory.

Ten of Yap’s points came in the fourth quarter, four inside the last 2:03 that shattered the game’s last deadlock at 95-all and pointed the way to a follow-up to their 118-107 win last Wednesday.

It was Yap’s highest scoring game since he put up 40 points in last year’s PBA Fiesta Cup wildcard phase and somewhat helped ease the sting of his absence on Sunday.

Game 4 of the series was costly for the former UE Red Warrior hot-shot after he was meted a one-game suspension and fined P20,000 for his foul on Sta. Lucia’s Joseph Yeo in Game 3.

At first, he was called for a flagrant foul penalty one but that was upgraded to a penalty two last Thursday by league officials upon review of the game tapes.

Purefoods initially won an appeal to move the suspension from Friday to Sunday, although the PBA Board still has to decide on another appeal to have Yap serve it in the next conference.

Purefoods coach Ryan Gregorio said his team is ready to play without Yap, even though it will be doing so for the first time in three years.

“We will go out and play, we will come out strong, with or without James. But definitely we will miss James,” he said. “It’s about fighting and surviving again.”

Big man Kerby Raymundo added 26 points and eight rebounds, Peter June Simon 17 and Roger Yap 12 points in a balanced offensive show that took away much of the limelight from Sta. Lucia's Kelly Williams, earlier named as the Best Player of the Conference.

Williams scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, complimenting Bitoy Omolon’s team-high 19 and Yeo’s 18.

Marlou Aquino and Dennis Miranda each had at least 12 points and the Realtors came back from a 51-61 halftime deficit and into the thick of things with a big 37-point third quarter that gave them an 88-83 lead.

All those, however, went for naught when Sta. Lucia scored only 10 points on 3-of-17 field goal shooting compounded by seven of their total 22 turnovers in the fourth period.

After Omolon’s undergoal stab off Miranda’s ninth assist tied the count for the eighth and last time, Yap scored on two charities and followed up Simon’s own free throws with a lay-up to spark Purefoods’ windup.

The Giants rewrote their scoring record in a half for the second straight game as Yap and Raymundo combined for 29 points while Simon and Yap each had at least 10 points coming off the bench, giving the team its 10-point halftime spread. They had 59 in the first half last Wednesday.

The Realtors had not lost back-to-back games since last December, but they appeared headed for certain defeat when they failed to take care of the ball in the first half alone.

The Realtors’ relatively high first half score was also slightly deceiving as only Marlou Aquino’s 11 points off the bench led the team in the first 24 minutes while the likes of Williams and Joseph Yeo struggled.

Not helping Sta. Lucia’s cause any was Dennis Espino being called for his third foul at the 7:55 mark of the second quarter and Williams following suit some three minutes later.

No such problems faced Purefoods, with Roger Yap highlighting the team’s romp with a buzzer-beating triple that banked in, helping pull the Giants away from a 56-51 count.

Otherwise, the only scary moment for Gregorio came when Raymundo and Marc Pingris each got slapped with a technical for excessive complaining after Raymundo was called for an offensive foul against Williams in the final 2:58 of the first quarter.

Yeo was also slapped with a flagrant foul 2 for hacking a driving Noy Castillo in the last 17.4 seconds of the game and promptly ejected. He has been summoned to appear before PBA Commissioner Sonny Barrios Saturday morning. - GMANews.TV
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