SLR 72, Whoopers 120

On: 15 June 2009

PBA Fiesta 2009

There must still be a bit of a SEABA hangover for coach Yeng Guiao.

This showed in the way his Burger King team pounced on a hapless Sta. Lucia Realty crew last 14 June 2009, much like the way his Powerade-Team Pilipinas squad did in Medan, Indonesia where the Nationals ran roughshod over the opposition by winning by an average of 36 points.

He, however, declined to make any comparison.

"Madalang mangyari yan dito (PBA)," pointed out the mentor after his Whoppers fired on all cylinders against the severely undermanned Realtors for a lopsided 120-72 win and advance to the Motolite PBA Fiesta Conference semifinals at the Araneta Coliseum.

So one-sided was the game that Guiao had the luxury of resting his main men in the fourth quarter, utilizing his second- and even third-stringers to do the mopping-up operations.

Later, Guiao said he never figured wrapping up the best-of-three quarterfinals via a 2-1 count would be as easy.

"Nobody expected us to win this way," said Guiao after the one-sided game that set up Burger King for a confrontation with early qualifier and playoffs top seed San Miguel Beer in a best-of-seven semis duel set to start Wednesday.

"The key was we had a good start," Guiao added. "Our starters did a good job of setting the tone, and those guys coming off the bench just picked it up from there."

The game also set new franchise records for the two protagonists. It was the Bert Lina-owned team's most lopsided win since, as Air21, it fashioned a 124-90 drubbing of Barangay Ginebra in Game 2 of last year's Finals.

The defeat was also Sta. Lucia's worst, far eclipsing its 79-114 thrashing received from a Guiao-coached Red Bull squad in the 2007 edition of the same tournament.

The 48-point winning margin was also the league's biggest since Alaska defeated Tanduay 119-71 in the battle for third in the 2000 Commissioner's Cup.

Gary David led Burger King with 19 points with RP team member Arwind Santos finishing with 15 and eight rebounds. Three others wound up with 12 points each while three others had at least seven, making up for Shawn Daniels' four-point outing.

The biggest blow for Sta. Lucia was the sidelining of Ryan Reyes due to a pulled hamstring he suffered in the SEABA tourney. The Realtors have already lost Kelly Williams for the season due to a rare blood disorder.

"Our biggest break was Ryan and Kelly not being able to play. It would have been different if Ryan and Kelly were playing," said Guiao, who also stated his coaching staff did a fine job of honing the team while he and chief assistant Roehl Nadurata were with the Nationals.

"They did a good job of keeping our guys sharp while we were away," he said.

Anthony Johnson had a game-high 30 points and 20 rebounds and Joseph Yeo 17 points, but no other Realtor scored in double figures.

In a game it had to win following an 81-94 loss in Game 2 last June 3, Sta. Lucia finished with a woeful 28-for-92 shooting from the field for 30.4 percent, a far cry from the same team that has shot no poorer than 37.7 percent in its previous games. It now owns the conference's worst field shooting, edging Purefoods' 31.5 percent which the Giants recorded in an 82-78 win over Burger King last April 15.

Daniels went into the game averaging a little over 14 points a game but only went 1-of-4 from the field in the first half. Guiao couldn't care less as the bulky import busied himself with other matters, like rebounding (six) and blocking shots (two). He ultimately wound up with 12 boards, five assists, three blocked shots and two steals in just 30 minutes of action.

David and the likes of rookie Erick Rodriguez and Santos took charge in leading the Burger King offense that gave them as much as a 54-30 second quarter lead and pointed the Whoppers into the rout with a 56-33 halftime spread.

Sta. Lucia dug itself the deep hole from the opening minutes by missing its first five shots from the field. Johnson broke the ice with a layup at the 9:57 mark, but the Realtors missed their next four shots and also had four turnovers that led to a 2-16 deficit and a 17-33 bind after the first period.

Johnson and Yeo were the only bright spots for Sta. Lucia in the first half with 17 and 11, respectively, but the entire team shot just 13-for-41 from the field compared to Burger King's 25-for-49 anchored on a sizzling 14-for-24 first quarter.

That trend continued in the third as Sta. Lucia missed 17 of 24 shots, enabling the Whoppers to pad their lead to 80-51 before going into the final quarter with an 80-53 cushion its bench players would continue padding on to.

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