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'We're stronger'

First Posted 12:09:00 03/27/2008

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Game on Saturday

(Panabo, Davao del Norte)

4:30 p.m. ? Talk N Text vs. Coca-Cola

WITH two imports and very reliable locals, the Coca-Cola Tigers are indeed one of the title favorites in the coming 33rd PBA Fiesta Cup.

The Tigers will try to live up to that lofty billing when they face the Talk N Text Phone Pals this Saturday at the start of the Fiesta Cup in Panabo Multi-Purpose, Tourism and Cultural Center in Davao del Norte.

Coca-Cola is one of the two teams allowed to have two imports due to their low-seeding in the previous Philippine Cup. The other is Welcoat which finished 10th in the All-Filipino tournament followed by the ninth-placed Tigers.

Coca-Cola will be reinforced by the five-foot-nine Calvin Cage and the six-foot-eight behemoth Jason Burries.

Cage and Burries will serve as an added firepower to the already talented locals of the Tigers led by Asi Taulava, former MVP Kenneth Duremdes, John Arigo, explosive rookie Ronjay Buenafe, Mark Telan and new acquisition Nic Belasco.

The Tigers acquired Belasco from the Dragons in favor of Mark Isip and a first round pick in the 2010 Rookie Draft.

?Definitely, we've got stronger. But it remains to be seen what we can do. It's something we have to work for, something we have to sweat for,? Coca-Cola head coach Binky Favis told pba.ph.

?Definitely, the talent we need is there. The challenge is how to use it. The great opportunity is there and I'm excited on what will unfold,? Favis added.

The Tigers are expected to face a tough battle this Saturday since Talk N Text has an axe to grind against them.

Reinforced by Aaron McGee, the Pals are aching for vengeance against the Tigers who dealt them two heart-breaking losses in the playoffs of the Philippine Cup that led to their elimination.

Curiously, Talk n Text went on a nosedive after trading Asi Taulava to Coca-Cola in exchange for Ali Peek. The Fil-Tongan behemoth played a key role in the Tigers' two crucial wins against the Pals.

The poor showing of the Pals in the Fiesta Cup prompted management not to extend coach Derrick Pumaren's contract, paving the way for the entry of coach Chot Reyes.

Reyes said they have a job cut out for them against the Tigers.

?Coca-Cola has done a good job re-building. With two imports, all they need is three quality players and they're tough to beat,? observed Reyes, who won two championships with Coca-Cola in 2002 and 2003.

?On paper, they should be in the Top Three,? he added, impressed with Coca-Cola's lineup with the addition of Belasco.

The Pals had minor change in their lineup, acquiring free agent 6-foot-7 center Gilbert Lao.

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