PBA: San Mig Coffee squeaks past Talk 'N Text, books last semis slot
MANILA, Philippines – A split second. That's all it took for the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers to ensure that at the end of the 2013 PLDT Home DSL Philippine Cup, there will be a new champion.
San Mig Coffee dispatched the Philippine Cup 3-time defending champions Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters in a tightly contested ballgame, 90-82, on Sunday, January 26 to snag the last semifinal slot.
With less than two minutes remaining in the best-of-3 quarterfinals series, Ranidel De Ocampo guarded Marc Pingris high in the post.
Pingris asked for the ball with fellow Gilas Pilipinas teammate De Ocampo pressuring behind him. Once he received it, that's when De Ocampo let his guard down for just half a second as he tried calling the attention of the referee and tugging at his jersey.
Pingris immediately turned around, and with one step ahead of De Ocampo, drove hard to the hoop to get the basket plus the foul. His 3-point play broke the 82-all tie--the eighth and final deadlock of the game.
That play shifted the momentum toward the side of the Mixers for good, leading to an easy Joe Devance basket underneath with 57.9 seconds left, 87-82.
Riding on the momentum, the Mixers only had to make their free throws as a deflated Talk 'N Text heaved 4 three-pointers until the final buzzer. None of which went in.
"I thought the game turned when we were able to get in early penalty," San Mig Coffee head coach Tim Cone explained the game-changed for his team.
"That kind of changed things. They couldn't press us anymore. They couldn't get up because they can't afford to get a lot of fouls. So that allowed us to do our offense the way we wanted to do it."
Before a divided but rowdy crowd at the Cuneta Astrodome, San Mig Coffee and Talk 'N Text put on a show. The entire match was a battle of defensive prowess, excellent shooting and execution for the players.
On one end, the newest Texter KG Canaleta already appeared to be comfortable with coach Norman Black's system as his hands caught fire with 3 triples in the second half to finish with 13 points along with 10 rebounds.
On the other end, rookie Justin Melton also sizzled with 12 points--all of which came from beyond the arc as he went 4-of-7 from that distance. He hit back-to-back three-pointers in the middle of the third to stretch San Mig's lead to 60-53. His splendid performance earned him a solid 20 minutes of playing time as he played through the crucial stretches of the match.
Cone, displaying true faith in his rookie, even fielded Melton in with 1:38 minutes left in the game for defensive purposes.
"We had a secret weapon tonight, Justin. But I guess he's not a secret anymore," Cone said of his athletic 5-foot-10 guard. "He was really really key for us, hit big shots, made big stops."
After a torrid 1-5 start to the conference, the Mixers pulled themselves together in time to make a late run in the conference.
"Going back to our 1-5 start and to make the top 4 after that is really an accomplishment," Cone said.
With the win, the Mixers set up a best-of-7 Manila Clasico semifinal series against rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, starting on Tuesday, January 28 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
For his part, Cone couldn't be any more excited.
"To be honest with you, I was really hoping to be able to play a best-of-7 semifinals Manila Clasico series. I thought that would be neat. I'm stoked and I'm really pumped up to play Ginebra. It should be a real fun series."
San Mig Super Coffee 90: Barroca 18, Devance 14, Pingris 13, Melton 12, Simon 10, Mallari 8, Yap 8, Sangalang 7, De Ocampo 0, Reavis 0.
Talk 'N Text 82: De Ocampo 22, Castro 15, Canaleta 13, Seigle 8, Alapag 6, Williams 5, Fonacier 5, Carey 5, Reyes R. 3, Aban 0, Peek 0, Reyes J. 0, Baclao 0.
Quarters: 20-21, 42-40, 61-60, 90-82