ANTIPOLO CITY – Rookie guard Josh Urbiztondo overshadowed superstar teammates Kelly Williams and Ryan Reyes with his energy and effort to help Sta. Lucia Realty repeat over Coca-Cola, 98-92, Friday night in the 2009-10 KFC-PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center here.

The 26-year-old, who had no takers during the annual rookie Draft last October, tallied a second career-best 22 points and made 6-of-10 3-point attempts in a sterling performance that justified coach Boyet Fernadez’s decision to sign him up.

His successive 3s late in the second quarter broke a 41-all tie and shoved the Realtors ahead to stay.

“It’s nice to win again. We’ve been really struggling the past couple of games but tonight the players really worked hard to get the W,” Fernandez said.

As they often do, the Realtors ran their plays around Williams, Joseph Yeo and Bitoy Omolon.

But when push came to shove, Urbiztondo made the big plays and made the difference as the Realtors snapped a two-game skid and improved to a 6-5 (win-loss) record.

“His energy and effort was awesome. When we signed him up, we knew he’ll be playing a huge role for the team. I’m glad he stepped up bigtime tonight,” said Fernandez, of his rookie guard who made the roster when veteran playmaker Denok Miranda was traded to San Miguel.

Williams led the Realtors with 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting and grabbed 17 rebounds for his conference-leading eighth double-double in the conference. He also had six assists and two blocks.

Yeo scored 14 points and Dennis Daa turned in 11 in place of starting center Gabby Espinas, who is out with sprained left ankle. Reyes, who was hurting in his groin, managed just three points on 1-of-6 shooting in 25 minutes of play.

A free throw and a layup off a spin move by Mark Macapagal pulled the Tigers within 48-49 at the start of the third. But Urbiztondo knocked his fourth and fifth treys of the night to cap a 14-5 run by the Realtors and Sta. Lucia stretched the lead to 63-53 late in the quarter.

“Right now we’re still a work in progress. So if by chance we make it outright to the semis it will be just a bonus for us. But I guess making the quarterfinals is more manageable goal for the team,” said Fernandez, whose SLR team defeated the Tigers 95-76 last October 16.

Both teams were so-so from the field and shot poorly from the free throw line. Sta. Lucia made just 40-of-89 attempts (44 percent) while Coca-Cola went 34-of-82 (41 percent). The Realtors went 8-of-20 from the free throw line while the Tigers were even worse with 19-for-34.

Alex Cabagnot scored 15 points and had five assists for Coca-Cola while RJ Rizada had a career-high 13 which Magapagal matched. Dennis Espino added 12 and 11 boards for the Tigers who dropped their eight consecutive loss and 11th in 12 games.

The losing streak matched the conference’s longest futility and tied the franchise’s worst effort when it went 1-8 at the start of 2006-07 Philippine Cup.

Asi Taulava, who was sidelined for six weeks with a right ankle injury, returned to action but was visibly out of game shape. He grabbed 10 rebounds but scored just 8 points on a 1-of-8 shooting and went 6-of-12 from the line. (DBC)

The scores:

STA. LUCIA 98 – Williams 23, Urbiztondo 22, Yeo 14, Daa 11, Omolon 9, Aquino 6, Waters 4, Misolas 4, Reyes 3, Mendoza 2, Pacana 0.

COCA-COLA 92 – Cabagnot 15, Rizada 13, Macapagal 13, Espino 12, Calimag 8, Taulava 8, Cruz 7, Gonzales W. 6, Gonzales N. 4, Rodriguez 3, Bono 3, Allera 0.

QUARTERSCORES: 24-24, 49-45, 72-65, 98-92.

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