Air21 fights back vs San Miguel's twice-to-beat edge
MANILA, Philippines – The Air21 Express massacred the twice-to-beat San Miguel Beermen, 92-79, on Tuesday, April 22 to stay in the hunt for a semifinals slot in the 2014 PLDT Home TVolution Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Sean Anthony exploded for 25 points and 7 boards, stemming from two-of-two perfect makes from three-point land together with a 6-of-10 field goal shooting clip to lead the Express in their defensive gem over the Beermen.
Air21 took no time in setting the tempo for the rest of the game with a 29-20 lead by the end of the first 12 minutes of play and maintained their dominance until the halftime break, 45-34.
The Express succeeded in their goal of staying consistent throughout the contest, scoring 18 and 29 points in the third and fourth periods to thwart any comeback attempt by the Beermen.
"At least we were able to sustain our run," remarked a clearly elated and relieved Air21 head coach Franz Pumaren.
"It's a good thing that we were able to play smart, kept our composure. The big difference there was we didn't run away from what we're supposed to do. It was really an effort in trying to hold down the number one scoring team."
San Miguel was led by import Kevin Jones with 34 huge points – 14 of which he dropped in the third – together with 15 rebounds to try and help San Miguel get rid of a feisty Air21 in the first game.
But the Express just wouldn't give up as Anthony and Air21 import Wesley Witherspoon combined for 23 of the Express' last 29 points in the payoff period to ensure their victory.
Pumaren's wards managed to force 19 turnovers on the Beermen and claimed 23 points off of that, while keeping San Miguel to just a 39.5% field goal shooting. Second chance points also favored Air21, 15-13, as they out-rebounded San Miguel, 50-47.
"Actually that was our main point here, to pull down the opponent," Pumaren said. "As we all know they're very capable of piling up points."
Chris Lutz added 11 points for San Miguel, while Arwind Santos eked out 10 points despite a two-of-8 field goal shooting night.
Asi Taulava still dominated against the youngsters with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Rookie Eliud Poligrates wasn't too shabby himself with 11 markers.
The Express will try to upset the second seed San Miguel on Friday, April 25 for Game 2.
Air21 (92): Anthony 25, Witherspoon 18, Taulava 17, Poligrates 11, Yeo 10, Ramos 5, Borboran 2, Villanueva 2, Cardona 2, Burtscher 0, Camson 0.
San Miguel Beer (79): Jones 34, Lutz 11, Santos 10, Ross 9, Fajardo 5, Mercado 5, Maierhofer 2, Lassiter 2, Hubalde 1, Duncil 0, Tubid 0, Kramer 0.
Quarter scores: 29-20, 45-34, 63-54, 92-79.