PBA: San Mig Coffee moves one win away from Philippine Cup Finals
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Add one more classic game to the storied Manila Clasico rivalry.
The San Mig Super Coffee Mixers star of today James Yap scored the pivotal three-pointer with 13.4 seconds remaining to tow his team to a Game 5 victory over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 79-76, in the PLDT Home DSL Philippine Cup on Saturday, February 8 at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Yap made up for the last missed three-pointer he shot in Game 4 that could have extended the game into overtime by shooting the trey over the outstretched arms of Mac Baracael, shoving San Mig Coffee ahead by two, 78-76.
Justin Melton then split from the line for the final tally as LA Tenorio botched two attempts at the basket, including the final play where instead of attempting a triple to tie the game, he chose to drive hard to the basket and was unsuccessful.
"Well, I guess, Manila Clasico, it should come down to the last possession. And it did today," said Mixers' head coach Tim Cone. "It came down to a James Yap three-point shot. In the old days it would've come down to Alvin Patrimonio making a big post move. But nowadays James hits a big shot."
Cone also commended the crucial contributions made by his playmaker Mark Barroca down the stretch, especially in Yap's game-winner.
"Nice pass by Mark (Barroca), he could've forced something but he knew he was screening down for James and he knew that was an option so he threw it back, James got the shot," Cone explained.
"Mark played wonderful defense on LA in that final possession," he added.
Barroca was a force once again with 14 points, 4 assists and 3 steals. He outplayed Tenorio, who had 9 markers, 7 assists and 6 turnovers.
"It' just a one game lead," Cone said as his team is now one step closer to their goal with a 3-2 series edge in the best-of-7 semifinals. "This game doesn't really mean much. It gives you a lead but you still gotta finish it off, and that's the hardest part. But we're gonna turn around and see if we can do it."
Japeth Aguilar came alive in the last 5 minutes of the ball game after a 2-point first half output and a generally quiet semifinal series. He scored on a drive with 4:20 remaining to cut San Mig Coffee's lead to 65-70. He later completed an and-one play with 2:53 on the clock to make it just a one-point affair, 69-70.
After 14 lead changes, the 5th and final deadlock of the contest came with 52.8 seconds remaining as Greg Slaughter managed to put back an Aguilar miss, 74-all.
Marc Pingris, who added 12 points, then split from the stripe for a hairline of a lead, 75-74.
Chris Ellis could have been the hero for Ginebra with his go-ahead jumper that made it 76-75 with 22.4 ticks left but Yap had other ideas in mind as he heaved the game-winner from deep. Yap spoiled Ellis' game-high 20 points as Yap finished with 10 of his own to go with 7 boards.
Five Mixers were in double digits as they forced 24 turnovers on Ginebra and milked 27 points from it.
The Mixers were out-rebounded, 52-40, but they shot much better with a 50% field goal shooting clip (27-of-54) against Ginebra's 40% (26-of-65).
"It was hard to stay calm in that basketball game. It was really hard," Cone admitted. "But that's what you live for."
The Mixers now have a virtual twice-to-beat edge over Ginebra as Monday's Game 6 is a must-win for the Gin Kings.
San Mig Coffee 79: Barroca 14, Pingris 12, Simon 10, Reavis 10, Yap 10, Mallari 8, Devance 7, Sangalang 6, Melton 2.
Ginebra 76: Ellis 20, Reyes 11, Aguilar 9, Slaughter 9, Tenorio 9, Caguioa 6, Baracael 5, Helterbrand 5, Mamaril 2, Monfort 0, Urbiztondo 0.
Quarterscores: 21-21, 46-44, 62-57, 79-76