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Old 05-13-2007, 11:21 AM   #32
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Default Re: Philippine Basketball Association Thread


Cool Whip spoils return of Cool Cat

Sunday, 13 May 2007

The Coca-Cola Tigers made sure this one wouldn't slip away.

Jeff Varem scored nine of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and Alex Cabagnot had nine assist as the Tigers rallied from a 14-point deficit and dealt the Alaska Aces a 94-90 decision Sunday night at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Tigers capped their amazing comeback with a 12-2 run in a span of two minutes in the fourth period which turned an 81-83 deficit into an eight-point lead that held on to the end.

"This is a great win for us. We hit some good shots in the end and we hung tough with our defense,” said Coca-Cola coach Binky Favis, who shared the victory with his mom Rosemarie and wife Ela as the win came on Mother’s Day.

It was the sixth win in 14 games for the Tigers, who bounced back from a heartbreaking 85-86 cliffhanger against the Air21 Express last Wednesday on a John Arigo turnover in the endgame, keeping alive their slim hopes of earning a free ride to quarterfinals.

"There's still hope (to make it outright to the quarters) although it's kinda slim. But we’ll see what happens," Favis said.

With the Aces up by 13 after three quarters, Favis said he told his players to just keep playing and never lose their focus.

Their patience and perseverance paid off.

In a sudden twist turn of events, Alaska's offense turned sour and the Aces couldn't match up to the Tigers' energy level.

Coca-Cola shot 66 percent in the fourth quarter compared to Alaska's 6-of-22 clip (27 percent) as the Tigers outscored the Aces, 33-16, in the period. During the decisive stretch, the Tigers also outrebounded the Aces, 14-11, and 51-45 for the game.

"I was shocked to see that we managed to beat Alaska off the boards. This was the key for us," Favis said.

Varem, who was virtually unheard of in the first half, also grabbed 18 rebounds including three crucial offensive boards during the team's key run in the closing minutes to keep the Aces at bay.

Ali Peek scored 19 points and “Cool Whip” Cabagnot added 18 – 15 in the second half -- for the Tigers who shot 42 percent for the game and overcame 22 turnovers.

The loss was like a dagger that pierced the hearts of the Aces, who went into game with a chance to tie for the lead and enhance their bid for an outright semifinal berth.

Instead they fell to third place in a tie with Red Bull on their similar 9-5 (win-loss) records.

Rosell Ellis tallied 23 points and Willie Miller, Jeffrey Cariaso and Nic Belasco had 13 apiece show the way for Alaska but none one of them managed to provide a spark when the Aces needed it.

The Aces played so well in the first half they looked to be cruising to an easy win. They led 33-12 after one quarter and were up 74-61 going in the fourth.

Alaska’s loss also spoiled the return of Mike Cortez to active duty after a seven-month layoff due to an ACL injury. The “Cool Cat” finished with four points, a rebound, assist and steal each in 11 minutes of action. (DBC)

The scores:

Coca-Cola 94 – Varem 22, Peek 19, Cabagnot 18, Arigo 18, Antonio 11, Calimag 4, Tolomia 2, Yeo 0, Avenido 0.

Alaska 90 – Ellis 23, Miller 13, Cariaso 13, Belasco 13, Thoss 12, Ferriols 4, Cortez 4, Hugnatan 3, Singson 3, Laure 2.

Quarterscores: 21-33, 38-52, 61-74, 94-90.
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