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But Purefoods, Burger King poised to live another day

DESPITE missing a key player, Rain or Shine was able to pounce on a battle-weary Purefoods at the start of their 2009 Motolite PBA Fiesta Conference quarterfinals series last Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.

Things should be drastically different Wednesday.

For sure, the Giants will be aching to bounce back from their 87-96 loss in the best-of-three opener, having had ample time to rest not only tired bodies but also sapped minds.

“We are determined to live for another day,” said Purefoods coach Ryan Gregorio, who ordered his charges to take a day off from practice Monday and lined up only a light session Tuesday.

“We must equip ourselves with the necessary survival instincts to play another game. Wednesday would be a different story,” he vowed.

Gregorio blames their Game One loss more on the exhaustion borne of a 126-123 double overtime win over Talk 'N Text in their wildcard knockout pairing just two days before.

The tolls of the TNT game on Purefoods showed in the way RoS' Jai Lewis got away with 26 points and 17 rebounds and the Giants committing 16 turnovers and issuing only 10 assists.

Purefoods also did itself in by falling behind by 22 points early in the fourth and, at the height of a rally, getting affected by calls or non-calls, exemplified by Marquin Chandler's technical fouls for continuous complaining and delay of game.

“As a team, we had instances where we lost our composure. We must stay focused and should never be distracted,” Gregorio pointed out.

Even RoS coach Caloy Garcia opined that their win last Sunday should not be taken as a true gauge of how the series will turn out.

“The thing with Purefoods, they're unpredictable. Maybe in the next game they will come out with a different attitude. They might even start hitting all their shots,” he said.

The impressive thing about the win, though, is the fact the Elasto Painters fashioned it minus starting point guard Sol Mercado, good for 14.9 points and 4.6 assists per game but out with a pulled right hamstring.

“Without Sol, we were able to prove that this team is not about only one guy,” said Garcia. “I think it's a blessing also that without Sol we were able to play this way. My other players now know they can really play in the PBA.”

Garcia is again not planning on using Mercado Wednesday to give the latter more time to fully recuperate. “I even talked to management about it,” related Garcia. “Mahirap na. I don't want to endanger his career. A hamstring is a hamstring. Once you tear that, it's gonna be hard to play again.”

If he does miss Game Two, Mercado will have more time on his hands to fully recover. Should the Giants win, the deciding match will be played on June 14, after Powerade Team Pilipinas' stint in the SEABA championship in Medan, Indonesia.

Garcia doesn't want to wait that long for his team to seal this deal and advance to its first-ever semifinal stint since joining the league three years ago.

“The momentum's on our side right now. All we have to do is finish it on Wednesday,” he stated. “We can't let Purefoods get the game on Wednesday.”

The key, he added, is getting just one more big game from his remaining players.

Sta. Lucia Realty also aims to close out its own best-of-three affair with Burger King in the nightcap projected to feature its own fair share of intensity and resolve.

The Realtors pulled off a 93-84 win in their opener, thanks largely to Anthony Johnson shrugging off the pains of a pulled groin muscle to score 13 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter.

He also had 24 rebounds and five blocked shots, anchoring a defense that limited the Whoppers' usual strengths in offensive rebounds and points off fastbreak and turnovers.

Sta. Lucia coach Boyet Fernandez knows Burger King will be just as determined to forge an equalizer. “I know (BK) coach Yeng (Guiao). He'll come up with some new gameplans, but we'll be ready,” he said.

Source: http://www.pba.ph/content/view/2664/1/
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