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PBA: Texters spill SMB

Jeff Chan

Games Tomorrow (Smart Araneta)
3 p.m. – Kia vs NLEX
5:15 p.m – Ginebra vs Rain or Shine

With the near-forgotten Danny Seigle having a career revival with Talk ‘N Text last night, Rain or Shine will now have to do it the hard way.

Seigle, 38, the 1999 rookie of the year, came off the bench to provide crucial offense down the stretch as the Tropang Texters put on hold the San Miguel Beermen’s outright entry to PBA Philippine Cup semifinals, 107-101, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

An SMB victory would have sent the Beermen (8-2) and Rain or Shine (8-2) to the semis as the elimination round’s top teams. But with Seigle, a former SMB player, turning back time and scoring 9 of his 12 points in the 4th quarter, along with Jay Washington, another onetime Beerman, TNT (8-3) denied both teams an early celebration.

That left the Elasto Painters with the Herculean task of having to beat Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (6-4) tomorrow to clinch the needed 9th win. SMB, likewise, needs another victory to earn passage to the best-of-7 series but will have a less torturous final assignment in winless expansion team Blackwater on Tuesday.

TNT coach Jong Uichico, who offered without being asked that Seigle, his player when they were both with San Miguel, deserved a slot in the PBA’s 40 Greatest, will now be rooting for Ginebra, his former team prior to moving to the MVP Group, when it takes on Rain or Shine.

“I’ll be for the team that will get us to the semifinals,” said Uichico, who added that although Seigle, left out by the PBA’s selection committee for the honor, “may have his deficiencies, he also has his strengths.”

Rain or Shine’s fate now rests in its hands, with a loss to Ginebra creating a 3-way tie for the second outright semis berth. TNT could hug the inside track over ROS and Alaska in the eventuality on the basis of a higher quotient.

The first game, meantime, saw Rain or Shine gaining an early return on `investment with rookie Jericho Cruz.

Cruz, chosen 9th overall during the draft, justified the Elasto Painters’ faith in him by hitting the go-ahead putback that keyed ROS’ 98-95 victory over the Alaska Aces last night in the PBA Philippine Cup, with the two ballclubs trading places in the standings at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“Jericho Cruz played like a veteran,” said ROS coach Yeng Guiao, who gave the former Adamson Falcon 18 minutes of exposure, more than he allowed for defensive guard Ryan Arana and center Raymond Almazan. “He certainly made us look good picking him up in the rookie draft.”

Guiao quickly downplayed their string of victories dating back four weeks.

“We’re on a six-game winning streak, but that streak will be worthless if we lose on Sunday,” Guiao said. “We need a similar game like this one against Ginebra.”

Their success over the Aces was made possible only in the final 33 seconds after Paul Lee, 1 of 5 from 3-point range at that point, drilled a way-out triple from top of the key to tie the game, 93-all.

Alaska, whose bid to advance to the semis the first time was stalled by Barangay Ginebra a few days ago, drew a play for a cutting Calvin Abueva, who caught a pass from Jayvee Casio and left ROS forward Gabe Norwood on his feet for a 95-93 Aces lead, 27.9 seconds to go.

As the E-Painters had designed at the huddle, Jeff Chan got the ball after the inbound pass as the primary option and was fouled by Casio. Chan hit the first free throw but missed the second.

RAIN OR SHINE 98 – Lee 19, Cruz Jericho 16, Belga 16, Norwood 12, Chan 8, Quinahan 8, Tiu 5, Almazan 5, Uyloan 3, Tang 3, Arana 2, Ibanes 1, Cruz Jervy 0.

ALASKA 95 – Abueva 18, Menk 16, Baguio 12, Casio 12, Manuel 11, Thoss 8, Hontiveros 6, Dela Cruz 4, Exciminiano 3, Jazul 3, Banchero 2, Eman 0, Dela Rosa 0, Bugia 0.

Quarters: 18-23, 42-45, 67-73, 98-95.

TALK N’ TEXT 107 – Washington 19, Castro 19, Alas 12, Seigle 12, Reyes Rob 11, Rosser 10, De Ocampo 8, Reyes Ryan 5, Carey 4, Fonacier 4, Aban 3, Aguilar 0, Espiritu 0.

SAN MIGUEL BEER 101 – Lutz 25, Fajardo 18, Santos 16, Fortuna 15, Ross 9, Maierhofer 5, Tubid 5, Mercado 4, Pascual 2, Kramer 2, Omolon 0, Semerad 0, Chua 0.

Quarters: 28-23, 55-48, 77-76, 107-101