SLR 88, RoS 85

On: 16 November 2008

PBA's 34th Season

Given the opportunity, the Sta. Lucia reserves are capable of winning game for the team.

They did against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters at the Ynares Sports Center last 14 November 2008.

Rookie Kelvin Gregorio and sophomore Christian Coronel were among Sta. Lucia's unlikely heroes as the Realtors overcame the Elasto Painters, 88-85, to finish third behind Alaska Milk Aces and the San Miguel Beermen after the initial round of the KFC PBA Philippine Cup double-round elimination phase.

Nelbert Omolon scored only four points but made all these down the stretch helping the team pick up the slack on the early exit of Kelly Williams and Paolo Mendoza.

Williams headed to the dugout late in the third with his right eye accidentally poked by JayR Reyes. Mendoza followed in a little while after a technical infraction.

The Realtors won't be denied, though, with their reserves rising to the occasion.

Coronel scored on a buzzer-beating shot then Omolon and Norman Gonzales knocked it two charities each as the Realtors shattered an 83-all deadlock and went on to notch a fifth win against four losses.

Rain or Shine suffered a second straight loss and slid to joint fourth place with Purefoods at 5-5.

"My second stringers deserve the credit for this win. As we're further decimated by the exit of Kelly and Paolo, they grabbed the opportunity to shine," said coach Boyet Fernandez whose Sta. Lucia team still missed the services of 2008 top rookie Ryan Reyes.

Mendoza, playing extended minutes on the absence of Reyes, had piled up a team-high 16 points before his ejection.

Gregorio enjoyed a breakout game, ending up as the team's second highest scorer with 13 -- his best in his young pro career. He also pulled down eight rebounds.

"Excited at determinado ako magpakita dito dahil malapit lang ito sa amin," said the 6-foot-4 rookie forward from the nearby Teresa town.

Coronel fired seven points, all done in the last five minutes of play. His biggest shot was a buzzer-beater atop the key stopping the Rain or Shine momentum after having tied the count at 83 on a 12-2 tear.

After Coronel broke the 83-all deadlock with 33 seconds left to play, the Elasto Painters eventually yielded the game on four straight missed three-point attempts.

Alex Compton and Mike Buendia called the shots for Rain or Shine in the last four minutes after coach Caloy Garcia was ejected on continuous complaining.

There's no question, though, that the Realtors dominated the contest.

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