SLR 99, Alaska 86

On: 10 July 2008

PBA Fiesta Cup

ANTIPOLO CITY – Joseph Yeo scored a career-high 27 points as Smart Philippine Cup champion Sta. Lucia Realty dethroned Alaska, 99-86, in the do-or-die wildcard playoff game in the Smart-PBA Fiesta Conference Wednesday night at the Ynares Center here.

Yeo, the former De La Salle University ace gunner who came off the bench, torched the Aces with 8-of-12 shots from the field and 9-of-13 from the foul line as the Realtors kept their bid alive for a first-ever back-to-back title.

The point production of the 5-foot-10 Yeo, who had 19 in the second half, erased the previous high of 24 points which he recorded also off then bench last October 21 in a 96-101 setback to Magnolia Beverage last conference.

The win pushed the Realtors, who also got a double-double of 23 points and 13 rebounds from Fil-Am forward Kelly Williams, to another do-or-die match.

Sta. Lucia meets either Purefoods, the same team it downed in a seven-game showdown during the all-Filipino conference Finals, or Talk ’N Text Friday at the same venue to determine which team takes the last quarterfinal slot opposite Barangay Ginebra.

The Phone Pals and the Giants were still playing at presstime.

The Realtors played tough defense in the fourth quarter, forcing the Aces to commit eight of 19 turnovers, including four from import Randy Holcomb. Holcomb had a game-high eight errors.

“I’m just happy that my players stepped up,” SLR mentor Boyet Fernandez said. “We just have to believe in ourselves that we can overcome the wildcard, that we can overcome Alaska.”

“I told the guys (in the second half) that we have to follow our gameplan, particularly on the defensive end,” he added.

The win was the Realtors’ third straight against the Aces this conference after sweeping the elimination head-to-head, and fourth dating back to Game 7 of the Smart Philippine Cup semifinals.

Sta. Lucia is one of two teams Alaska failed to beat this conference, the other team being Magnolia.

Import Lee Benson collected 11 points, 17 boards, five assists, a steal and three blocked shots. Nelbert Omolon had 13 and rookie Ryan Reyes added 12.

With the score tied at 80-all, Omolon made a lay-up that ignited a decisive 15-6 run.

The last time the Aces made a basket was a Holcomb jumper, 86-88, with 3:05 to play, but Benson answered with a tip-in to make it 90-86. The Realtors made 9-of-10 foul shots, including 4-of-4 by Omolon, in the final 2:28.

“Hopefully we could bring the intensity in our practice (Thursday) into the do-or-die game. Purefoods and Talk ’N Text are two great teams, ss we expect another tough game,” Fenandez added.

However, the Realtors went 0-2 against the Giants and the Phones Pals during the eliminations.

Coca-Cola and Magnolia Beverage collide in the other quarterfinal pairing starting Sunday at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

The Kings, the Tigers and the Beverage Masters earned automatic quarterfinal slots for finishing tied for third with similar 10-8 cards after the elims.

Air21 topped the elimination round with its 12-6 win-loss card to claim its first-ever outright semifinal berth since joining the PBA in 2002, while Red Bull took the last automatic seat with a second-best 11-7 record.

The semifinal round is a best-of-seven affair.

The Aces, who suffered a 90-97 beating from the Kings last Sunday that relegated them to the wildcard, got 26 points from Willie Miller, but the reigning league MVP was limited to six in the fourth. Holcomb added 18.

Alaska, which finished the eliminations with a 9-9 win-loss card, ended its 2007-08 season with a 25-22 record (0.532) this season, slight down from its 30-23 last season (0.566). (Source: PBA Site)

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