by Tito S. Talao
Game Tomorrow (Smart Araneta)
4:45 p.m. – Petron vs San Mig Coffee
Manila, Philippines – If one weren’t watching closely, Game 1 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals would have been mistaken for an NBA pre-season game.
And apparently, it wasn’t just wishful thinking for Petron Blaze’s Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter when they expressed preference for a sweep rather than an extended series.
The Boosters came heavily-armed for Game 1 last night, bombarding San Mig Coffee from all sides for a breakaway 100-84 victory than sent the Mixers scampering back to the drawing board.
Petron poured 41 points in the fourth quarter, overwhelming San Mig as Elijah Millsap unloaded 35 points overall with 10 rebounds and five others were in double figures. The Boosters buried six triples during the period.
Game 2 of the PLDT-Telpad Best-of-7 Finals is tomorrow at 4:45 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with the Mixers facing a dilemma of whether there is still anything else they could do to stop the Boosters.
Though still a long way off, Cabagnot and Lassiter gave credence to their foresight when they said during the pre-finals press conference that a Game 7 wasn’t an option to them.
“This win boosts our confidence and we’re very happy about it,” said Petron coach Gee Abanilla.
“They just broke us down with their three-point shots in the fourth quarter,” said San Mig coach Tim Cone.
The Mixers rallied from 19 points down in the first quarter to level at 36-all behind Marqus Blakely and Peter June Simon before the Boosters regained the lead at the half, 41-36.
Petron shot 51 percent in the first two quarters, with Elijah Millsap scoring 16 and Arwind Santos adding 14 as the Boosters weathered the Mixers heavy pounding under the boards from high post lobs from Yancy de Ocampo (4 assists).
Hitting over 60 percent of their shots, the Boosters raced to a 19-6 lead before Millsap slipped on a wet spot near the San Mig basket where teammate Alex Cabagnot had earlier fallen.
Millsap appeared to have hurt his left hip as he struggled back to the bench, but he returned after a three-minute rest to spark another Petron surge that made it 30-18 early in the second quarter.
Blakely then took over as San Mig worked a high post-low post offensive play to perfection with De Ocampo drawing 6-foot-10 Junmar Fajardo out of the paint and then throwing lob passes to at point-blank range.
Simon also nailed back-to-back jumpers that helped tie the count, 36-all, before Santos’ fast break and Millsap’s 3-pointer gave the Boosters some breathing room going to the locker room. The third quarter ended, 61-59, at the end of the third period.
Meanwhile, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, with the first round pick originally owned by the Air21 Express, won the lottery and the chance to claim 7-footer Greg Slaughter in the Nov. 3 draft.
PBA commissioner Chito Salud presided over the lottery at halftime, with assistant team manager Dandy Henares representing the Express, who had two balls (67 percent chance), and team manager BJ Manalo there in behalf of Globalport, which had one (33 percent).
San Mig Coffee, which owned Globalport’s first round pick, would have benefited had the Batang Pier won the lottery.
It has been 17 years since Ginebra obtained a No. 1 pick in 6-foot-9 former Adamson Falcon center Marlou Aquino.
Petron (100) – Millsap 35, Santos 16, Fajardo 12, Lassiter 12, Lutz 11, Cabagnot 10, Miranda 2, Tubid 2, Kramer 0.
San Mig Coffee (84) – Blakely 23, Pingris 16, Simon 13, Devance 10, Yap 8, Barroca 6, De Ocampo 4, Mallari 2, Reavis 2, Acuna 0.
Quarters: 23-18, 41-36, 59-61, 100-84