MANILA, Philippines – It was a night filled with history for San Mig Coffee.
The San Mig Super Coffee Mixers battled neck and neck to finally bag the PLDT Home DSL PBA Philippine Cup finals in Game 6 at the expense of Rain or Shine, 93-87, on Wednesday, February 26 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
It’s the second straight championship for the Mixers, who won the season-ending Governors Cup last season, and opened this season with a bang. Tim Cone notched his 16th championship – his third since joining San Mig Coffee – while denying Yeng Guiao another All-Filipino title.
Cone has now won more titles than any PBA head coach, eclipsing Virgilio ‘Baby’ Dalupan who has 15 PBA titles for the ‘winningest PBA coach’ title.
The Mixers led by as much as 17 in the first half, 49-32 but had to weather a huge storm from the Elasto Painters before taking home the PBA Perpetual Trophy.
Mark Barroca and Ian Sangalang starred in separate runs in the fourth quarter, conspiring for 18 Mixer points to help San Mig Coffee upend Rain or Shine in a grueling showdown.
Cone’s wards came out firing bombs from all over the place, erecting an early 30-17 edge heading into the second frame. Familiar names James Yap and Marc Pingris started strong early to give the Mixers the lead.
Guiao threatens with walkout
But in the second quarter, Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao threatened what could least be expected in a finals game: a walkout.
After what he believed to be a bad call on JR Quiñahan at the 11:39 mark of the period, the fuming Guiao instructed the entire Elasto Painters bench to vacate the Big Dome floor, drawing flack from the San Mig fans in attendance.
PBA Commissioner Atty. Chito Salud already instructed 15 minutes of grace period, though Guiao’s troops would return shortly after that point.
According to PBA Media Bureau Chief Willie Marcial, RoS’ actions could have been fined 10 million pesos if they pursued the walkout.
After that bizarre sequence, Cone’s troops would race towards a seemingly insurmountable 49-32 bubble.
But Rain or Shine, which embraced the value of not giving up, believed that no big lead was too steep to overcome.
Paul Lee anchored an Elasto Painters charge as they shut the Mixers out for the closing minutes of the half while firing an 11-0 blast to chop down the lead, 43-49, heading into the break.
Furious third quarter fight back
Just like in their previous games where the Elasto Painters would start out flat, Rain or Shine started working double-time in the pivotal third period, where they fought with flare.
Guiao’s wards started dictating the tempo and controlling the boards, pushing the game’s pace to their liking.
And after several attempts to rattle San Mig’s advantage, they were finally able to shatter the deficit with a Chris Tiu trey for a 62-60 edge with 4:07 left in the penultimate quarter.
Beau Belga added an easy lay-in before Mark Barroca answered in the dying seconds of the 3rd with RoS carrying a hairline of an edge, 67-66 heading into the final frame.
Sangalang-Lee charge in the payoff period
Second overall draft pick Ian Sangalang then surprised everybody – including the 20, 337 rambunctious patrons inside the Big Dome – after putting 7 points in a sterling 11-1 run that turned a 68-69 hole into a 79-70 cushion for the Mixers with just 7 minutes left in regulation.
Paul Lee, however, did not want this year’s Philippine Cup to end tonight.
Coming off a RoS timeout, the 2012 Rookie of the Year turned in a Herculian effort, scoring 8 straight for his squad to cut the lead down to 3, 78-81 in the final 3:39.
Big shot Barroca delivers down the wire
But that proved to be their last hurrah, as Mark Barroca took over to deliver the back-breaking daggers.
The Smart Gilas point guard drained 7 of his 22 markers in just over a minute, pushing the Mixers lead to 6, 89-83 with just under two minutes left.
Belga responded with a trey afterwards, but Pingris hit two charities in the final 67 seconds for a 91-86 lead.
Rain or Shine then mapped a play off a timeout, but blew three cracks at the basket. Paul Lee tried to drive to the basket against the pressure defense of Marc Pingris but the ball slipped away from his hands instead – proving to be a metaphor for the Elasto Painters’ hopes as well.
San Mig had 37.6 seconds to protect a 5-point advantage after that crucial turnover, and did enough for the game clincher, securing Cone’s newest piece of silverware.
Guiao was even slapped with a technical foul for delay of game after pouncing the ball that was in the referee’s hands for a non-call. Jervy Cruz and Gabe Norwood botched putbacks before that, while Guiao left the game in the final seconds before San Mig began the celebration.
Coffee King hailed Finals MVP
Mark Barroca capped his sensational Philippine Cup performance with his 3rd PBA crown and the Finals MVP distinction.
Barroca scored 24 points on 9 of 16 shooting, and added 3 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals. He drew ample support from four more Mixers in double digits: Ian Sangalang (15 points), Marc Pingris (12 points, 11 rebounds), Joe Devance (12 points) and James Yap (10 points).
Paul Lee and Beau Belga combined for 44 points to pace the fallen E-Painters.
San Mig – Barroca 24, Sangalang 15, Pingris 12, Devance 12, Yap 10, Simon 9, Reavis 5, Mallari 4, Melton 2.
Rain or Shine – Lee 23, Belga 21, Cruz 11, Chan 7, Quinahan 6, Rodriguez 6, Araña 5, Tiu 3, Ibanes 3, Norwood 2, Almazan 0, Tang 0.
Quarter scores: 30-17, 49-43, 66-67, 93-87.