San Mig Coffee sends home Talk 'N Text, advances to finals
MANILA, Philippines - "Well I guess I can now say it, our dream is still alive, remarkably."
Indeed, coach Tim Cone's and the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers' Grand Slam dream is on.
San Mig Coffee pulled away early in the fourth to shatter the title dreams of the Talk 'N Tropang Texters with a 93-87 win on Friday, June 27 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum to book their ticket to the Finals of the 2014 PLDT Home Telpad PBA Governors' Cup.
Carrying a 62-55 advantage entering the final frame, the Mixers turned up their boosters as Mark Barroca opened that period with 7 straight points on a couple of jumpers and a trey to give his team a 14-point lead, 69-55.
Barroca wound up with 17 points.
"Frankly I don't know how we won," Cone said. "Guys just dug deep. We got big shots from different people."
More names stepped up to the plate for the Grand Slam-seeking Mixers as James Yap also lived up to his "Big Game" monicker, coming up with big shots to douse water on Talk 'N Text's rallies.
Yap, who led his team with 25 points on 5-of-9 three-point shooting, gave the Mixers their biggest lead of the ballgame with a three-pointer, 81-66, with 3:23 to play.
However, Talk 'N Text import Paul Harris single-handedly towed his team down the stretch to try and catch up. After a Ranidel de Ocampo triple, Harris scored all of the Texters' last 18 points starting from the 2:36 mark of the fourth, bringing his team to within 91-87 with 14.9 seconds left.
But his gargantuan 40-point, 10-rebound effort was not enough as the Mixers escaped with the 6-point victory.
"It wasn't the best played down-the-stretch game that we've had, protecting the lead," Cone admitted.
"I'm a little disappointed with how we played down the stretch but you can't argue the result, we're through and that was what we wanted to do. We had to go through an incredible team to do it."
Joe Devance also contributed big for the Mixers with a triple-double of 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Cone finally cracked the code on the Texters, who stormed back from 2-0 down in the series to force a Game 5 as Coach Norman Black utilized his entire bench in Games 3 and 4.
"They really handled us for two games and it came to this one," Cone said.
According to Cone, the key in this game was his players hitting their outside shots.
"They've been zoning us the last 3 games. They blew us out with the zone in Game 3. I thought we played a little better with it in Game 4. What made it good was that James was on fire and kept us alive against that zone," the 17-time champion coach explained.
"It's like we've practiced 3 straight games and we need to be better. We thought if we kept seeing the zone every game we would get better at it. You don't see the zone very often because it's more for shock value."
Cone also explained his decision to stick with a shortened rotation, which saw guys like Justin Melton, Alex Mallari and Allein Maliksi getting limited minutes than usual, in spite of Black doing the exact opposite.
"We were just looking for that 8th or 9th guy in the rotation. If you've watched me the last 20 plus years, that's my [game plan] - my rotation in big games and big moments and in big series.
"That's just the way I go with it. I'm not going to lessen the minutes of a James Yap. I've been saving him all conference for this moment. We try to extend the minutes of our key players."
San Mig Coffee also chained down Jayson Castro as the Gilas playmaker had another lackluster showing, finishing with only 11 points on 5-of-16 field goal shooting.
Castro figured in his 5th foul of the game with 2:13 remaining. He also had two turnovers.
The only other Texter who finished in double digits next to Harris was De Ocampo with 13 markers.
San Mig Coffee will now await the winner of the Rain or Shine and Alaska series.
And Cone, coming into his 29th finals appearance and 6th with San Mig, is ecstatic to go against either of them.
"Either opponent, it's kind of poetic. Rain or Shine has been our kontrapelo. Two years ago we lost to them in the finals with Marqus and of course the history we have with Alaska and they were the last Grand Slam team. It would be poetic playing them as well.
"We're still fighting for the Grand Slam and we got one more step to go."
San Mig Coffee 93 - Yap 25, Blakely 21, Barroca 17, Devance 11, Pingris 10, Simon 7, Sangalang 2, Taha 0, Melton 0, Reavis 0, Holstein 0, Mallari 0, Gaco 0, Maliksi 0, Matias 0.
Talk N Text 87 - Harris 40, De Ocampo 13, Castro 11, Seigle 8, Espiritu 7, Fonacier 4, Williams 2, Reyes 2, Alapag 0, Carey 0, Jai Reyes 0, Baclao 0, Canaleta 0, Ryan Reyes 0, Aban 0.
Quarter scores: 21-20; 37-38; 62-55; 93-87.