FINALS: Powerade Tigers 1 - 3 Talk N Text Tropang Texters
“It was a championship feeling,” said Powerade governor JB Baylon. “You won’t believe what we are going through.”

Behind the sizzling hands of Gary David, the Powerade Tigers turned what appeared to be another forgettable campaign into one that would be etched in people’s minds, becoming just the third No. 8 seed to topple a top-ranked team in the PBA quarterfinals. With two victories over the heavily-favored B-MEG Llamados, Powerade made it to the semifinals of a PBA tournament for the first time since 2004.

And the Tigers did it in style, rallying back from 17 points down to defeat B-MEG in an overtime thriller in the second game of the series.

“I told them that when we reached the quarterfinals, the pressure wasn’t on us,” said Baylon. “They deserved to be in quarters, but they don’t deserve to be No. 8.”

Baylon was forced to join his team on the bench when Powerade was completing its rally over B-MEG.

“Normally, I don’t watch the games because of my blood pressure,” said Baylon. “But when I sensed that we had a chance of pulling this one off, I felt that I’m needed there to support my team. I even told Sean Anthony that we’re going to steal this one. Sean just looked at me and told me, ‘Boss, what the hell are you talking about?’”

Outduelling Yap

People will remember Sunday’s game for Gary David’s 37-point performance. For the veteran guard who has always flown under the radar, it was a coming-out party in one of the league’s biggest stages.

“Ang feeling ko kasi, kapag tinalo ko si James Yap ng dalawang sunod sa quarterfinals, malamang makilala na ako ng tao,” said David, who outdueled Yap in the series.

Perasol coached David at Air 21, and is happy that his star scorer finally has a chance at the spotlight.

“He never had a chance playing for a winning team except when we were with Air 21 in 2008,” said Perasol. “Now, he has this opportunity.”

David battled foul trouble in the decider against B-MEG, and Perasol implored on his top gun to make sure to stay in the game.

“I told Gary that the worst thing that could happen in our game against B-MEG was to see him fouling out. I don’t care what he’s going to do defensively, basta huwag lang siyang ma-foul out because I need him inside. He was the one who salvaged the game for us. He was our biggest contributor in this series win.”

Perasol’s redemption

Perasol ranks the upset over B-MEG among his greatest achievements in the league, right up with his 2008 Fiesta Conference run with Air 21, where he led the Express to the finals against Barangay Ginebra. Air 21 lost the series in seven games.

“I had this experience against Ginebra and although we lost, people were saying that I did a good job. Ever since that time, there was no day I thought that we could have won that game. So when I gathered the players against B-MEG I told some of those players who were with me during the 2008 finals to never ever forget that experience. I told them not to get in there without giving their all because we’re going to write history.”

For Perasol, a former University of the Philippines standout, the victory is an oasis in what had been a desert of losing for the Powerade franchise.

“Boss JB should have fired me two years ago,” he admitted. “He stood by me. I’m not the only coach here, but I have blanket authority as far as getting the players we need. That’s why I’m willing reward him for the trust he has given me.”

And while a tough battle looms against either Rain or Shine or Ginebra, Powerade coach Bo Perasol said he and his players doesn’t want to let the moment pass them just yet.

“All we want to do now is cherish on this triumph,” he said. “It was really an inspiring win. Only a few have given us a chance and that includes ourselves. Now, we’re part of history. There was a lot of emotions inside the dugout after our victory. Players were having tears of joy. Halos lahat umiiyak, yung iba nga hindi nila napapansin habang nagsasalita sila tumutulo yung luha nila.”


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