FINALS: Powerade Tigers 1 - 3 Talk N Text Tropang Texters
CAN’T really blame the Powerade Tigers if they’ll make the most out of their stint in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series. 

The Tigers haven’t been this deep into the playoffs since the 2004 Fiesta Conference, when the team was then still known as Coca-Cola and their star player, hotshot Gary David, was about to embark yet on a colorful pro career. 

Curiously, it was David, picked 10th overall by the Tigers during that season’s Rookie Draft, who’s chiefly responsible for all of this.

In what was perhaps one of the most amazing displays of shooting prowess in PBA history, the former Lyceum of the Philippines stalwart torched top-ranked B-Meg Llamados for 37 big points as the Tigers completed a monumental upset, 131-123, in overtime play of their do-or-die encounter last week for a spot in the Final Four of the season-opening tournament. 

David was simply in a zone during that fateful stretch of the final period and extra play when he exploded for 16 straight points, including his team’s first 10 in overtime, to herald a remarkable comeback by Powerade from as much as a 17-point deficit. 

In all, `El Granada’ fired 8-of-13 from beyond the arc and 12-of-21 from the field, in a fitting follow up to his 32-point performance in a 97-88 win earlier over the Llamados that made the winner-take-all match possible. 

“We’re happy to be in the quarterfinals…but now we deserve to be in the semis,” said a highly-emotional Powerade Board representative JB Baylon moments after the spectacular win. 

Four more victories against equally surprising Rain or Shine in their best-of-seven duel will actually propel the Tigers to their first ever Finals appearance since winning the Reinforced Conference championship in 2003.

No wonder, everything is upbeat in Tiger-landia approaching the semis that begins on Jan. 4 at the Astrodome. 

“I would like to believe that we have what it takes to match up with Rain or Shine,” said coach Bo Perasol. 

“What’s important is that we need to understand that the semis is another level of competition.” 

After James Yap, David now faces Rain or Shine sensational rookie Paul Lee in another shooting duel, although much of the hype is being centered on Lee and David’s teammate JV Casio, who was picked no. 1 overall in the last Draft ahead of the Elasto Painters guard (no. 2). 

David doesn’t mind giving the limelight away to both rookies. 

“Mas maganda nga yun, e, although nung unang naglaban kami injured pa si JV,” said David of the 96-93 loss Powerade absorbed at the hands of Rain or Shine in their first and only head-to-head match up in the eliminations.

He also has some nice words for Lee. “Rookie pero maraming veteran na galaw,” said David of the one-time University of the East star guard. 

Rain or Shine is not just about Lee as the Elasto Painters drew a collective effort from such unheralded players like Jeff Chan, JR Quinahan, Ronjay Buenafe, and Beau Belga when they eliminated crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra with a two-game sweep of their best-of-three quarterfinals series. 

“Rain or Shine is a very deep, tough, physical team,” said Powerade assistant coach Charles Tiu in his Twitter account. But whatever the outcome of Powerade’s campaign, this is surely one magical ride it will enjoy. 

“Gusto naming i-enjoy ito,” said David. “Sabi nga nila, no chance in hell kami, pero right now we’re in heaven.”

tom cruz

oo nga wag ka lang mayabang David


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