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Penny, Taulava combine for 59 points, 18 rebounds to lead Tigers

COCA-Cola was looking for a leader who will lead the team in closing out games.

James Penny and Asi Taulava were all too willing to oblige Sunday.

With the two combining for 59 points and 18 rebounds the Tigers notched a 120-106 repeat win over the Barako Bull Energy Boosters in a duel of the lower-placed squads of the Motolite-PBA Fiesta Conference at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Penny and Taulava were at their hottest during the payoff period, helping Coke fully break out of a tight game and into the runaway win over the same team the Tigers beat via a closer 106-103 count the first time they met.

Penny, who ironically powered the former Red Bull team to the same tournament's title in the 2005-06 season, wound up with a game-high 36 points to go with eight rebounds.

Taulava, a member of Talk ‘N Text's 2003 all-Filipino champion team, finished with 23 points and 10 boards.

The two combined for 17 of Coke's 33 fourth period points as the Tigers notched their third win in 12 games overall.

“We have agreed we have to do something that would change ng attitude namin during games,” related assistant coach Bo Perasol, who called the shots for the second straight game for the still sore eyes-stricken head coach Kenneth Duremdes.

“Most of the times kasi, we set it all up pero hindi nagagamit ang skills ng buong team. So we decided to hasten the pace, use the full-court press and use whatever talent we have.”

Barako Bull head coach Leo Isaac was also absent due to the flu, but the Energy Boosters actually started out hot and even led by as much as 45-29 in the second quarter, thanks mainly to a new unfamiliar import in Daryan Selvy and Carlo Sharma's torrid shooting.

“Hindi kami pamilyar sa kanya kaya doon pa lang sa shootaround namin siya na-gauge,” said Perasol of Selvy, a well-traveled former Oklahoma Sooner, whose most recent stint was with the Aishin Sea Horses in the Japanese league.

But as soon as Penny-led Coke gathered its bearings, the Energy Boosters knew they were up for a tough night. This was displayed to the fullest during the fourth quarter, when the Tigers unleashed a 17-2 run to stretch a slim 97-93 lead to 114-95, only 2:45 left in the game.

The Energy Boosters were actually held scoreless for more than four minutes in that Tigers surge, a spell broken only by a Jeffrei Chan triple followed by Larry Rodriguez's short stab. By then it was too little, too late.

Worse, Selvy experienced cramps at the final 3:11 mark and had to be benched for good. He had a very respectable 30 points and 13 rebounds in 37 minutes, both game-highs for Barako Bull which absorbed a fifth straight defeat and dropped to a 2-9 win-loss overall.

Sharma had 20 points and Gabby Espinas 18 for the Energy Boosters.

Barako Bull's collapse started rearing its head right in the final 7:32 mark of the second quarter as Penny, Nic Belasco (20 points, eight rebounds) and Mark Macapagal led Coke's comeback that saw it close in at 54-56 at the half.

Then it was Alex Cabagnot's turn to pick up the fight for the Tigers in the third period with 10 of his 16 points and three of his five assists. But first he hooked up mostly with Penny and Belasco in a 10-0 run to open up the third that gave Coke the lead – turned out for good – at 64-56. (NCo)

The scores:

Coca-Cola 120 - Penny 36, Taulava 23, Belasco 20, Cabagnot 16, Macapagal 15, Dimaunahan 2, Singson 2, Misolas 2, Santos 2, Telan 2, Buenafe 0, Calimag 0.

Barako Bull 106 - Selvy 30, Sharma 20, Espinas 18, Rodriguez 9, Arigo 9, Membrere 7, Chan 5, Crisano 5, Ybanez 3, Juntilla 0, Duncil 0, Najorda 0, Hrabak 0.

Quarterscores: 18-29, 54-56, 87-83, 120-106.
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