SLR 95, Coke 76

On: 05 October 2009

Ryan Reyes versus Espino

Life minus longtime main man Dennis Espino started on a flying note for Sta. Lucia Realty.

The return of Kelly Williams and Ryan Reyes proved more than enough to perk up the Realtors who came out strong and went on to drub the Coca-Cola Tigers, 95-76, in the 2009-2010 KFC PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on 16 October 2009.

The win only made SLR coach Boyet Fernandez more confident they can perform well in the tourney which they ruled in 2007-08.

"I'm the coach of the team and I do believe we're one of the toughest teams in the tourney. I can't say where we rank but I really believe we're in the top five," said Fernandez.

"Talent-wise, I believe we can match up with any team. We remain a tough defensive team on the exit of Dennis Espino and Denok Miranda. We lost some on ceiling and defensive capability. But the new guys that came in also have defensive mentality," Fernandez added.

Reyes and Williams returned with a flourish and new recruits Gabby Espinas, Chris Pacana and undrafted rookie Joshua Urbiztondo had their contributions as the Realtors beat the Tigers in a duel of teams with newly overhauled lineups.

The Realtors edged the Tigers, 24-22, in the first quarter before stepping up their game, outscoring Coke 54-34 in the two middle quarters and dominating the contest with a lead as big as 25.

"I was wary how we will perform before the game because we didn't have a single practice with a complete lineup. I'm happy we came out the winners," said Fernandez.

Reyes, missing the closing stage of the recent Fiesta Conference with a hamstring pull, finished with a game-high 21 points that went on top of five assists, five steals and three rebounds in a solid 32-minute outing.

Espinas, an off-season recruit by SLR from Barako Bull, marked his first game in a Realtor jersey with double-double numbers with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Joseph Yeo also had a double-double game with 14 points and a career-high 10 assists while Williams added 14 points and nine rebounds and Dennis Daa contributed 13 points.

The rest of the Realtors had their share as Sta. Lucia put up a performance speaking well of its capability to do well in the tourney, where it finished third last season.

The Tigers, on the other hand, groped for form all night, having a hard time finding rhythm with their beefed-up lineup.

Alex Cabagnot put in 18 points to pace the Tigers who drew 11 points and 11 rebounds from Asi Taulava, eight points and eight rebounds from former SLR team captain Espino and eight points, four rebounds and three assists from Larry Rodriguez.

It was Espino's very first game outside the Sta. Lucia team in 15 PBA seasons.

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