05 February 2007

Barangay Ginebra is back in the finals.

The Kings, sans injured main man Eric Menk, reigned supreme over the Talk n Text Phone Pals for the third straight game, scoring a 98-89 victory to clinch the first slot in the Talk n Text PBA Philippine Cup finals at the Araneta Coliseum last night.

Mark Caguioa limped out of the court with leg cramps in the last 4:32 of play but the Kings never lost heart, riding on the exploits of Rudy Hatfield, Ronald Tubid and Sunday Salvacion as they beat the Pals in Game 6 of their best-of-seven semis showdown.

"It’s all about heart and character. The boys just keep on playing wherever it brings us. It brought us to the finals in this case," said Ginebra coach Jong Uichico.

"It was a hard game and we just made the run at the right time," added Uichico after leading the Kings to their 16th finals entry.

The Kings take a shot at their third All-Filipino crown against either his former team San Miguel Beer or Red Bull.

"It’s gonna be exciting. What I’m afraid of is that we’ve lost so much emotion in this series. We might not have much left for the finals," said Uichico, who gained his 10th finals stint — his first outside San Miguel.

Minus Menk and Caguioa, the trio of Hatfield, Tubid and Salvacion made it happen, combining in a decisive 15-5 run in the fourth quarter that changed the complexion of the game.

After Salvacion fired a trey to cap that attack, the Kings had seized control at 90-83 entering the last two minutes of play.

Red Bull lost its coach on technical fouls but not its fighting heart, squeezing out a 104-100 win over San Miguel Beer to force a deciding Game 7 in their own semis series.

"What comes to my mind right now is divine justice. The boys vindicated me. It’s their warrior spirit that bailed us out," said coach Yeng Guiao, who was thrown out of the game for two technical fouls in an incident triggered by his collision with San Miguel shooter Dondon Hontiveros in front of the Red Bull bench.

"I don’t know why I was given two technical fouls. Dondon bumped into me, I protected myself then he did a good acting job. The San Miguel bench rushed at us. So I don’t understood why I was given two technical fouls," Guiao pointed out.

source: Philstar 02/05/2007