Semis: SLR 76, Aces 65

On: 19 January 2009

PBA's 34th Season

Sta. Lucia showed up with the kind of defense that won for itself last year’s Philippine Cup title, holding Alaska to a conference-low in scoring for a 76-65 win in Game 3 of the KFC PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum Sunday night.

Bitoy Omolon scored 25 points and cornered 11 rebounds as the Realtors avoided falling into a deep hole no team in league history has ever recovered from, cutting Alaska’s lead in their best-of-7 series to 2-1.

The defending champions pounced on the Alaska Aces in all key departments but it was Omolon’s finally showing up in the series which inspired the Realtors to a breakthrough win in the series.

"Many are saying that Bitoy is our key in these playoffs. Tonight he stepped up his game and got us back in the series," said Sta. Lucia coach Boyet Fernandez.

The way they dominated Game 3, the Realtors indicated that this series is not about to end anytime soon.

"We’ll take it one game at a time. We’re still down but we’ll see what happens on Wednesday. We know Alaska will be back," Fernandez said.

Sta. Lucia seized the lead for good in the second quarter and posted the game’s biggest margin at 19 points four minutes into the fourth quarter.

The victory appeared sealed at that point but the Realtors refused to relax even for a beat making sure this one won’t slip away like they did in Game 2 when they blew a double-digit lead in the last six minutes of play.

Reigning MVP Kelly Williams managed just eight points as he struggled offensively on a 3-of-16 shooting but made his presence felt in the paint with 12 rebounds as the Realtors outrebounded the Aces, 50-42.

Sta. Lucia also held a 14-11 advantage in the assists department and had seven more steal than Alaska’s four.

The defending champions also capitalized on Alaska’s erratic game. They scored 24 points on Alaska’s 28 turnovers.

Both teams struggled with their shooting with Sta. Lucia making just 27-of-76 attempts while Alaska shot just 23-of-58.

Game 4 of the best-of-seven series is scheduled on Wednesday at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Fernandez said their ability to adjust to the referees’ call also helped.

Willie Miller led Alaska with 21 points but was visibly slowed down by Sta. Lucia’s tenacious defense. Joe Devance added 15 but he and Miller accounted for 12 of their turnovers.

Alaska, which averaged 54% from the field in winning the first two games of the series, held a 19-18 lead after one quarter but Christian Coronel opened the second period with a basket before Omolon scored seven straight points as the Realtors took the lead for good two minutes into the period.

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