SLR, PF Confident of Win

On: 02 March 2008

By Nelson Beltran
The Philippine Star, 02 March 2008

It's the moment of truth as Purefoods Tender Juicy and Sta. Lucia Realty end their classic Smart PBA Philippine Cup final duel in a winner-take-all today before an expected sellout crowd at the Araneta Coliseum.

It's a potential torrid duel as the Giants and the Realtors battle for one final game to decide which team takes home the coveted Emilio Bernardino Jr. Trophy.

With the three-day break, both teams are coming out rejuvenated for the 6:30 p.m. contest. Both took a rest Thursday and prepared for Game Seven with practice Friday and yesterday.

Coaches Ryan Gregorio of Purefoods and Boyet Fernandez of Sta. Lucia said their troops are excited to go to battle and claim top honors in the all-Filipino tourney.

"We're upbeat and we're all excited. We really wanted to survive Game Six and have a crack at Game Seven. Now that we're still alive, we'll do our best not to let this slip away," said Gregorio, whose team forced the rubber match with an 89-81 win Wednesday.

"The boys are in high spirits. I'm seeing good aura in them making me really believe that we have a good chance of pulling this off," said Fernandez.

The series has actually become a virtual one-on-one showdown between James Yap and Kelly Williams with Purefoods emerging triumphant on games ruled by "King James" and Sta. Lucia pulling through on contests taken over by "Machine Gun Kelly."

Yap returned from a one-game suspension with fire in his eyes, exploding for 30 points in Game Six. Williams was limited to only nine in that contest -- the first time he finished in single-digit output in their last 26 games.

Yap promised to once again dish out his A-game in Game Seven.

Experience is on the Giants' side since the core of their lineup is composed of seasoned warriors. But Gregorio is the first to say it doesn't guarantee them of victory.

"Sta. Lucia is highly motivated like us," said Gregorio, believing desire and determination will spell the difference in the end.

Fernandez said his boys have shown they can handle the pressure of a do-or-die game in beating the Alaska Milk Aces in Game Seven in the Final Four.

"Maganda ang nakikita ko sa team. My players were loose in practice. I know my players, kapag ganyan ang sitwasyon alam ko maganda ang ilalaro nila," said Fernandez.

Going into the deciding setto, the two teams are curiously dead even in the tourney with identical 19-12 win-loss records.

The Giants are out to tie the Crispa Redmanizers' record of five all-Filipino championships while the Realtors are seeking their first championship in seven years.

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