Finals Game 6: SLR 81, PF 89

On: 28 February 2008

James Yap came back big for Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants by scoring a game-high 30 points to lead the Giants to an 89-81 win over the Sta. Lucia Realtors Wednesday and forge a Game 7 in the 2007-08 Smart PBA Philippine Cup at the packed Araneta Coliseum.

Yap struggled in the early goings but picked up his game in the quarter that mattered most, scattering 20 of his points on 5-of-6 three-point shooting and helping the Giants tie the best-of-seven series at three games apiece.

The winner-take-all match is set Sunday, also at the Big Dome.

For Sta. Lucia Realtors, Dennis Espino had 22 points and two others, Paolo Mendoza and Ryan Reyes, scored at least 11 points each.

But the biggest letdown was Kelly Williams, who had 17 rebounds, but only nine points, the first time in 26 games he failed to score in double figures.

Still, the game remained close, with Sta. Lucia grittily coming back from a 30-40 halftime deficit, leading briefly and keeping within 69-71, just past the midway point of the fourth period.

Then Yap hit full stride, draining back-to-back triples and canning four charities to give the Giants an 83-76 spread going into the last 1:01 of play that proved comfortable enough in the face of the Realtors’ own listless windup.

Both teams actually groped for form in the first half, especially in field goal shooting where Purefoods went only 15-of-43 (34.9 %) that was only slightly better than Sta. Lucia’s 10-of-35 (28.6%).

The Giants, however, converted more free throws (7-of-10) to the Realtors’ 8-of-14) and had a gaping 35-24 advantage off the boards in the first 24 minutes of play.

Sta. Lucia started clawing its way back into the game in the third quarter, however, and all because it started clamping down more on its vaunted defense, concentrated more on rebounding and got lifts – both expected and a quite surprising one – from its two Dennises.

Espino scattered 10 points while rookie Dennis Daa chipped in six points and three rebounds in eight minutes as the Realtors shrugged off Williams’ shooting woes to tie the game at 50 before taking a 59-57 lead into the fourth period.

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