SLR 113, Air21 100

On: 12 May 2008

PBA Fiesta Cup

After playing lackluster basketball in a sorry 75-108 loss to Redbull last Wednesday, Sta. Lucia Realtors vent all their frustration on the hapless Air21 Express to fashion a convincing 113-100 win in the Smart PBA Fiesta Conference at the Araneta Coliseum last night.

The victory was the fifth in eight games for the Realtors and they readily headed towards that direction after showing the form that made them the top defensive team in the season-opening Philippine Cup they won.

Sta. Lucia forced Air21 to 29 turnovers, second worst in the conference, pulled off 10 steals and swatted away nine shots.

The Realtors were led by sensational sophomore Kelly Williams and Wesley Wilson with 25 points each while rookie of the year candidate Ryan Reyes rebounded from a scoreless stint in a game against Red Bull by chipping in 15 points and dishing out 10 of Sta. Lucia's 27 assists.

"It's nice to come back from such a loss with a win like this," said coach Boyet Fernandez. "We were really trying to make a statement on defense because we played badly in defense versus Red Bull."

Steven Thomas had 24 points and 10 rebounds and five Air21 locals scored at least 10 points each. But the Express fell to an even 4-4 win-loss card and a tie with idle Magnolia after failing to match the Realtors' intensity on both ends of the floor.

"Naging committed ang players to play defense and we really made a conscious effort to stop their transition game," said Fernandez.

Records show that Air21 coach Bo Perasol’s efforts to instill a defensive mind-set to his team has borne fruits after the Bert Lina-owned franchise won four games in this conference and their last nine games dating back to the RP Cup when limiting opponents below 100 points.

That was not to be the case Sunday, though, as the Realtors led from start to finish and even posted two 19-point spreads in the third quarter, the last at 82-63.

Due mainly to frustration at a 49-64 halftime deficit, the Air21 game turned from physical to rough in the last two quarters and this irked Fernandez to a certain extent since they were coming from a game in which Wilson was fined a total P65,000 and narrowly missed being suspended due to an altercation with Red Bull counterpart Adam Parada. Still, he was extremely pleased with the way his boys kept their poise and stuck to the business at hand.

Nelbert Omolon wound up with 17 points, the bulk coming when he joined hands with Wilson, Williams and Reyes in steadily pulling Sta. Lucia ahead.

Wilson’s short stab made it a 29-20 count late in the first quarter before Williams, Reyes and Paolo Mendoza chiefly made it a 15-point halftime difference.

For its part, Sta. Lucia improved to 5-1 this conference when holding opponents to 100 points or less in a game.

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