SLR 73, PF 71

On: 11 December 2008

PBA's 34th Season

Defending champion Sta. Lucia Realty solidified its bid for an outright quarterfinal berth as it downed Purefoods, 73-71, in the 2008-09 KFC PBA Philippine Cup Thursday night at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

The Realtors played tough defense down the stretch, forcing the Giants to miss crucial shots in the final moments as they improved their win-loss record to 8-8 for solo sixth in the team standings.

After committing a 24-second violation, James Yap missed a tough shot from the right corner. Enrico Villanueva collared the rebound and was fouled by Dennis Espino.

The former Ateneo stalwart, however, missed his free throws.

The Giants had two chances to tie the score when guard Roger Yap got the rebound, but missed his shot and Kerby Raymundo’s follow up attempt failed to find its mark as time expired.

Purefoods dropped to 7-9.

The win also ended a two-game skid for Sta. Lucia, and completed as well a conference sweep opposite its Finals opponent last season following a 69-66 victory in their first round meeting last Oct. 18.

The Realtors started slow as Purefoods started hostilities with a 10-0 blitz.

The Giants were up by 11 points, 42-31, when Joseph Yeo, who fired a game-high 21 points, singlehandedly carried the fight for the Realtors when he scored 10 straight points that sparked a 15-4 run that tied the score at 46-46.

Reigning Most Valuable Player (MVP) Kelly Williams, who added 17 points, highlighted that run by cutting through the lane, receiving a bounce pass from Christian Coronel and banging in a rim- rattling slam-dunk.

Purefoods came back in the fourth as Roger Yap’s basket gave his team a 61-50 advantage.

But SLR answered with nine straight points capped by a pair of free throws from Dennis Espino to make it 66-65 with 3:15 to play. After a dunk by Villanueva, Yeo nailed a three-pointer, Bitoy Omolon split his free throws and Espino made two foul shots for a 72-67 lead with 60 seconds left.

The last time Purefoods threatened was when James Yap made a basket, cutting the deficit to 71-73.

The top two teams after the Christmas day games will advance automatically to the Final Four, while the third to fifth teams will earn outright quarterfinal slots. The sixth to ninth teams will play in the crossover knockout wildcard stage where the survivor will claim the last quarterfinal ticket. The 10th placer will be the conference’s first casualty.

Yap led the Giants with 20 points, while Raymundo added 17 and Villanueva had 12.

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