SLR 90, Ginebra 92

On: 14 July 2008

PBA Fiesta Cup

Coach Jong Uichico didn’t regret not losing trust and confidence on Junthy Valenzuela even as the Cebuano warrior struggled in the first three quarters.

Valenzuela groped for form early on but came through with big plays in the final quarter as Barangay Ginebra scored a come-from-behind 92-90 win over Sta. Lucia Realty in the opener of their 2008 Smart PBA Fiesta Conference best-of-three quarterfinal showdown at the Astrodome Sunday night.

The former Salazar Tech stalwart, scoreless in the first 36 minutes of play, had two three-pointers and a crucial offensive rebound in the payoff period, helping the Kings – Big Time – in stopping the Sta. Lucia charge.

"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 clinched the win on an offensive rebound off his own missed three-point shot with only six seconds left and the Kings enjoying a 90-87 lead.

Earlier, he banged away a trey coming off the bench, sparking a decisive 12-to-nothing run that pushed the Kings ahead at 84-74.

Then after the Realtors came within four at 81-85, Valenzuela rifled in another trifecta, easing the pressure for the Kings with 57 seconds left.

The Realtors, however, still refused to give up, threatening for the last time at 87-90 on back-to-back three-pointers by Kelly Williams.

Then came the most crucial sequence in the night – Valenzuela misfiring another three-point attempt, but getting the offensive rebound himself, thus dashing Sta. Lucia’s hopes to salvage the game.

Valenzuela’s endgame heroics preserved Mark Caguioa’s 30-point showing and Chris Alexander’s double-double game of 19 points and 15 rebounds.

Kelly Williams and Lee Benson had their own double-double games that went to naught.

Williams, the leading MVP contender, logged 24 points and 13 rebounds with 13 markers coming in the final period.

Benson and Nelbert Omolon spearheaded Sta. Lucia’s attack in the early goings, enabling the Realtors to take control from the opening tip to the third quarter.

The Kings scored 10 of the first 12 points in the final period to seize the lead for the first time at 72-68.

"It was a grind. We had to work for our points and work on defense. We have to play better Wednesday if we want this series over with," said Uichico. (Source: PBA Site)

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