GINGOOG CITY — With a gutsy stand and breaks going their way, the Coca-Cola Tigers repulsed the San Miguel Beermen, 108-98, Saturday for early solo leadership in the 2010 PBA Fiesta Conference.
Coca-Cola beat out San Miguel in a duel of spurts with the Beermen nearly running out of big men in their road game at the Arturo S. Lugod Gym here.
Dorian Pena went to the showers ahead of everybody on a flagrant foul on Dennis Espino right in the first quarter, Gabe Freeman cramped out with 5:13 left to play while Jay Washington, Dondon Hontiveros and Danny Ildefonso fouled out in the homestretch.
The Tigers simply took advantage of the situation as they went on to chalk up their first 2-0 start in a tournament in the last two seasons. The team had a woeful 0-3 start in the last Philippine Cup where they finished seventh.
Coming off a 23-point drubbing of Barako Energy Coffee Wednesday, Coca-Cola actually struggled at the start but showed patience as they slowly got into the game and eventually beat San Miguel.
Unable to sustain the momentum of their triumphant debut versus the Air21 Express also last Wednesday, the Beermen moved down to joint second place with the Sta. Lucia Realtors, the Barangay Ginebra Kings, the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters and the Barako Energy Coffee Masters with identical 1-1 win-loss records.
Chico Lanete came off the bench to preside over Coca-Cola’s swashbuckling finish. The former Lyceum Pirate wound up with 15 points and four steals, the bulk of which he made in the fourth quarter.
The Beermen, the reigning Fiesta champions, started strong but scrambled at the finish on the early ouster of Freeman, Pena, Washington, Hontiveros and Ildefonso.
With no import rival to contend with, James Penny imposed his will at the finish, winding up with a game-high 33 markers.
Gary David added 19 points while Dennis Espino contributed 12.
Lanete, however, was the sparkplug of the Tiger’s telling fourth-quarter run. The hard-nosed guard highlighted his exploits with two important three-pointers with the last making it 93-86 with time down to 3:37.
With Freeman already on the bench, the Tigers unleashed a 14-4 run to race ahead, 88-85, entering the last five minutes of the game.
Freeman had made 18 before he was helped to the bench. Arwind Santos also tossed in 18 with Ildefonso chipping in 17 coming off the bench.
San Miguel started with a 10-0 run but Coca-Cola quickly responded, taking the first period at 32-26.
The two teams exchanged runs until the Tigers seized control for good midway through the final period. (SB)
Coca-Cola 108 — Penny 33, David 19, Lanete 15, Espino 12, Taulava 9, Rizada 9, Macapagal 9, Cruz 2, Ross 0, Gonzales 0, Allera 0, Rodriguez 0, Bono 0.
San Miguel Beer 98 — Freeman 18, Santos, 18, Ildefonso 17, Hontiveros 12, Cabagnot 8, Yeo 8, Washington 6, Villanueva 6, Pennisi 3, Seigle 2, Miranda 0, Holper 0, Pena 0.
Quarterscores: 32-26, 51-57, 72-77, 108-98.