Do or Die Game Also: SLR vs Ginebra

On: 16 July 2008

SLR vs GinebraThe Philippine Star, 16 July 2008

The Sta. Lucia Realtors, who survived two knockout games, are confident of rising up to the challenge again, this time against the Barangay Ginebra Kings for a crack at a possible season sweep.

The All-Filipino champions play a third do-or-die game in eight days when they tangle with the Kings tonight at the Ynares Center, looking to force a rubber match in their best-of-three Smart PBA Fiesta Conference quarterfinals showdown.

The Realtors overcame the dethroned Alaska Milk Aces and the Talk n Text Phone Pals in two previous knockout tussles.

Joseph Yeo came through with career-high numbers on both games and became the recipient of the Smart-Accel Player of the Week honors for the period July 9-13.

But Ginebra sent Sta. Lucia on the brink of elimination again with a come-from-behind 92-90 win at the start of their quarterfinal round duel Sunday at the Astrodome.

“Sta. Lucia is a great defensive team that we need to match their intensity. They dominated Game One and we just turned things around in the fourth quarter. We have to come out and do a better job if we want the series over Wednesday,” said Uichico.

Sta. Lucia has proved it’s a team that thrives under pressure, having survived a total of four do-or-die games already in the season, counting Game Seven in the semifinals and finals of the recent Philippine Cup.

"No one can question the character of the boys. They show the stuff they’re made of when their backs are against the wall," said Sta. Lucia top official Buddy Encarnado.

Ginebra rode high on clutch plays by Junthy Valenzuela to seize control in the fourth quarter and eventually steal the game from Sta. Lucia Sunday. Curiously, Valenzuela struggled early on, going scoreless in the first three quarters.

"He’s a veteran and he’s been there before. We know we can count on him to do things even as he struggles in the early part of a game," said Uichico in lauding Valenzuela after the contest.

Valenzuela and Mark Caguioa have to play extended minutes with Ronald Tubid sustaining a dislocated ankle in the team’s last game in the elimination round.

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