2001 NBA Finals
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Standing tall -- literally

Sixers' Mutombo sticking with victory guarantee

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Posted: Saturday June 02, 2001 5:35 PM
Updated: Saturday June 02, 2001 5:37 PM
  Dikembe Mutombo Dikembe Mutombo was brought over in a trade to help lead Philadelphia to the Finals. He is betting the Sixers will do just that. AP

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Dikembe Mutombo isn't backing off his promise now.

Mutombo guaranteed the Philadelphia 76ers would beat the Milwaukee Bucks before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, said it again after a 10-point loss Friday night and stood by his comments Saturday.

"We're going to win because I know A.I. [Allen Iverson] is going to come out, our house is going to be full with our fans cheering for us and myself, I'm not pleased with the way I played [Friday]," Mutombo said. "I'm looking for a great performance."

Game 7 is Sunday night at the First Union Center, with the winner going to Los Angeles to face the Lakers in the finals beginning Wednesday and the loser going home.

"I'm looking to go to L.A.," Mutombo said. The Bucks aren't so sure about that.

"That's him. That's what he thinks. You can't change the way a person thinks. So what? We know what we're capable of doing," Ervin Johnson said. "He's talking like they're going to guarantee a win. That's on him. Maybe he ought to eat his words, but for us we're just going to keep it hush-hush and just play basketball. And whatever happens, happens."

Before Game 7 of the conference semifinals against Toronto, Mutombo guaranteed a victory over the Raptors. A missed 20-footer at the buzzer by Vince Carter made him a prophet.

The way Glenn Robinson sees it, Mutombo already is 0-1 this series.

"That just goes to show that nothing's guaranteed," Robinson said, referring to Mutombo's stance on Game 6. "When you guarantee the victory and you don't get the win, that's what you call eating your words. He ate a big meal last night."

Mutombo, averaging 15.5 points and 15 rebounds per game this series, isn't concerned about firing up the Bucks with bulletin-board material.

"We're just going to come out and beat them," he said. "If we can come out and play the same way we played in the second half [Friday], we have a chance to win the game by many points.

"I just believe in my teammates. I believe in the way we are capable of playing basketball, especially when we do make mistakes, we have been a strong team, we can look at our mistakes and change them the next game."

The Sixers trailed Milwaukee by 33 points in the second half of Game 6 before a furious rally led by Iverson in the fourth quarter made it closer.

Jumaine Jones said Mutombo motivates the rest of the team when he makes guarantees.

"A lot of guys are confident having the game at home," Jones said. "He motivates us, lets us know we should be confident."


 
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