SLR 93, Air21 95

On: 02 June 2008

PBA Fiesta Cup

Air21 coach Bo Perasol is not one to be overly concerned when his team trails early.

“Starting out lousy is nothing but finishing strong. It will be the win that counts,” he reasoned.

And that's precisely what the Express did in overcoming an early 18-point deficit to beat the Sta. Lucia Realtors 95-93 in overtime Sunday in the 2008 Smart PBA Fiesta Conference at the Araneta Coliseum.

Despite a bout with the flu, Steven Thomas came up with 24 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists for the season's first triple double while Arwind Santos and Gary David came up with the crucial points that made the victory possible.

“I told them that it's going to be their heart, composure that are going to count in overtime and those did,” related Perasol after his team won a second straight game and improved its win-loss record to 8-5 and a tie with Red Bull at second, just half a game behind league-leading Coca-Cola..

The positive traits Perasol talked about surfaced in the tenser minutes of the extension after both teams finished regulation locked at 86.

Santos' triple gave him 20 for the game and Air21 a 91-89 edge, and David's clutch free throws put the Express ahead to stay, 93-91, 1:16 to go.

The shooting woes that hounded SLR in regulation spilled over into OT as Jamar Brown and Dennis Espino missed from underneath while Dennis Miranda traveled, leading to David capping his own 24-point performance with two more charities that made it a safer 95-91 game.

Williams still led SLR with 27 points and seven rebounds while Brown, who arrived only last Friday, showed some side effects of jetlag just setting in with 14 points and 24 boards.

Williams' dunk opened scoring in the extension and Brown completed a woeful 4-of-12 stint from the stripe with a charity split that made it an 89-88 count.

Then came Santos' dagger of a trey and SLR's virtual collapse in the homestretch.

Reyes played almost brilliantly in the closing minute of regulation, scoring off Williams' feed to give his team the upper hand and following that up with two free throws to make it an 86-83 count, 45 ticks left.

But he failed to become the outright hero when he bungled two charities that could have iced it, leading to Santos' game-tying triple. And he almost became the goat when his passing error led to an Air21 possession in the final two seconds.

Good thing Santos missed a desperate heave from just beyond midcourt.

Sta. Lucia could consider itself lucky to have survived the quarter as it made only two of 14 shots and only stayed afloat through 10-of-16 free throw shooting.

Tempers started to flare after Wynne Arboleda tied up Williams following a steal try, 4:47 to go in the third. The SLR forward reacted negatively to Arboleda by sneaking in what looked like a punch while Homer Se got into the act by visibly planting a knee on the fallen Williams' face and then hitting Reyes on the face with his left hand when the rookie reacted to the veteran center's obvious foul.

The referees, however, prevented the situation from getting out of hand and sort of evened up matters by assessing Williams with a technical for a second motion on Arboleda and Se with a flagrant foul-penalty one for the knee.

The incident seemed to fire up the Realtors even more and they padded what was a 57-53 lead to 72-64 going into the final quarter. Williams scored six of his 12 quarter points in that stretch.

The virtual shootout between Williams and David first took shape in the second quarter as they came up with the points that propped their respective teams the most.

Williams scattered nine of his 11 first half points in the period, six coming during a 14-4 surge that staked his team to a 36-18 spread, 6:29 to go. Then it was David's turn, spreading out the bulk of his 10 quarter points in keeping his team within reach and keep it close, 36-43, at the turn. (Source: PBA Site)

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