San Mig Coffee starts bid for Grand Slam with rout of Barako Bull

Jane Bracher

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San Mig Coffee starts bid for Grand Slam with rout of Barako Bull
Tim Cone's squad starts their bid for the third title to get a PBA Grandslam with a 76-66 win over Barako Bull

MANILA, Philippines – The San Mig Super Coffee Mixers are one trophy away from claiming the coveted Grand Slam recognition. And that last title will undoubtedly be the toughest.

But the Mixers moved one win closer on Wednesday, May 21 after putting away the Barako Bull Energy Cola, 76-66, in the 2014 PLDT Home Telpad PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

PJ Simon showed the way for the Mixers with 17 points as they cruised to their first victory of the conference just days after copping their third straight title by winning the 2014 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

The veteran Simon claimed the victory early for his team by hitting a dagger three-pointer, 72-63, with 4:01 left in the game to cap off an 8-0 San Mig run.

With two minutes remaining, Simon got another basket to go and made it a 10-point 74-64 game, leaving Barako to absorb their first loss in two outings.

The Mixers showed no signs of letting up from the start of the contest, leading by the end of the first half, 39-35.

They clearly aren’t tired of winning.

And with their comebacking import from their 2013 Governors’ Cup championship run, Marqus Blakely, the Mixers are early favorites for making, at the very least, a deep playoffs run.

Blakely, who according to San Mig Coffee head coach Tim Cone has truly practiced with the team just once before tonight’s game, had a 10-point, 24-rebound production.

There was no need for an offensive explosion from the 2013 Governors’ Cup Best Import as the rest of the Mixers chipped in on offense and did the work on defense as well.

James Yap added 9 points and comebacking Allein Maliksi, who San Mig lost to a knee injurt in 2013, had 8 points in his return.

For Barako, import Eric Wise finished with 25 points and 15 rebounds. While JC Intal had 11 markers.

Despite the double-digit victory, Cone wasn’t particularly satisfied with his team’s performance.

“To be honest we certainly didn’t look like a championship team out there,” he said.

“Marqus was rusty. And Allein, to be honest with you, it’s a little bit of a disruption right now bringing him into the rotation.

“Marqus is trying to get his rhythm back into the triangle. And Allein still is trying to find his way and he’s kind of in the wrong places sometimes. But we stayed in the game with our defense. I think we’ll sharpen our offense with a little bit more time.”

With the championship high barely even settling for the Mixers, Cone admits they want to milk it for all that it is worth in as far as carrying that momentum to get an early lead in the standings.

“It’s just been a whirlwind for us right now. We’re just gonna grind out some early wins and hopefully be in the top 4. We’ll just pick it up in the playoffs,” he said.

But what about the pressure that surely follows the Mixers around due to their huge opportunity at claiming a Grand Slam?

Cone says that pressure will surely grow as the conference wears on. But he has faith in his team. He says he knows they can handle it well, even adding that he is certain his experienced team is sure to perform better.

“I think we can make some noise in this conference,” remarked the 17-time champion coach.

And even if the Mixers fail to make history, Cone says 3 consecutive titles spanning two PBA seasons aren’t so bad at all.

“In all honesty we really wanna try and win this thing and go down in history. But if we don’t, it’s gonna be a great run anyway.

“One of my favorite quotes of Phil Jackson is, ‘You can’t learn to be a true winner until you learn not to be afraid to lose.’

“I don’t think this team is afraid to lose.”


San Mig Super Coffee (76) – Simon 17, Blakely 10, Yap 9, Maliksi 8, Pingris 8, Devance 6, Sangalang 6, Melton 5, Barroca 3, Mallari 2, Reavis 2.

Barako Bull (66) – Wise 25, Intal 11, Fortuna 7, Lastimosa 6, Najorda 4, Miller 4, Deutchman 3, Jensen 2, Isip 2, Thiele 1, Miranda 1, Wilson 0, Marcelo 0.

Quarter scores: 25-21, 39-34, 58-54, 76-66.


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