MANILA, Philippines – The deadlock is broken.
The San Mig Super Coffee Mixers get their noses ahead 2-1 in the best-of-7 semifinal series as they make mince meat of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel down the stretch for a comfortable 97-89 victory in the PLDT Home DSL Philippine Cup Sunday, February 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“I was a little worried that maybe we were a little tired mentally and we wouldn’t come out and really match the energy of Ginebra because they come out with a lot of energy, a lot of confidence from their last game,” head coach Tim Cone said. “But we got good contributions down the stretch from our two rookies.”
In what has been a seesaw battle all throughout, come the fourth, San Mig Coffee forced Ginebra to multiple turnovers – which amounted to 12 – and froze their offense.
The Mixers milked 16 turnover points from Ginebra and out-rebounded them 48-47.
San Mig built a 10-point lead, 83-73, on a Joe Devance right corner triple at the 7:45 mark of the payoff period. But Ginebra mounted their own 7-0 rally to chop the deficit to 3, 80-83.
Mark Barroca, who hit a career high 25 points along with 8 rebounds and 5 assists, then stopped the bleeding with a putback as San Mig countered with their own 7-0 spurt, including a momentum-changing Justin Melton trey, to take the 10-point lead back again.
From that point on, Ginebra’s shots stopped falling and they could not catch a break as the Mixers continued to hit the big shots. SMC pushed the lead back farther to 11 points, 95-84, with 1:26 remaining.
Barroca, known as of late to hit the big shots, supplied the dagger blow to blast Ginebra out of the water, 97-87, with 30.2 seconds left.
“I guess we deserved a good game, right? It was a really nice game. Our guys showed a lot of character coming out strong starting out the game,” Cone said.
San Mig Coffee exploded in the first quarter and led by as much as 21-6 at one point before Ginebra’s 7-foot rookie bigman Greg Slaughter went on a solo 9-2 run until the close of the first to chip away at the lead 17-25. He also finished with a career high 29 points to go with 13 boards.
The second canto was marred by multiple technical fouls and warnings as the game grew chippy. Mixers Cone was also slapped a technical as he got irate from a foul called on his ward Rafi Reavis.
Ginebra first got a taste of the lead after several ties only with 43.4 seconds left in the first half on a Japeth Aguilar putback. PJ Simon, however, immediately got the two points back to tie it again, 44-all, in the ensuing play. But a triple by Ginebra playmaker LA Tenorio towards the end made it 47-46 for Ginebra heading into the locker rooms.
Cone said heading into Game 4, what his team needs to do is to maintain their energy and even beyond Game 4.
“We still don’t feel comfortable going up 2-1. I feel that our team really has to be at their A+ game to beat this team. Being up 2-1, the one moment we come out next game lacking energy, we’re done.”
He added, “Our job is to stay in the game. Stay in the fourth quarter and hopefully beat them. Every game we gotta be at the top of our ceiling to be able to beat this team.” – Rappler.com