By WAYLON GALVEZ
Manila, Philippines – An obviously irritated San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone has a simple answer to Petron Blaze’s protest regarding the number of free throws the Mixers had during the first two games of their showdown in the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.
“Well, my response to Petron’s complaints about the calls of the referees is, do us a favor and quit fouling Marqus (Blakely) every time to put him on the line,” said Cone yesterday.
“It was the same complaint in our Meralco (semifinal) series, but if you’re going to continue to foul Marqus as a strategy and put him on the line and put yourself in early penalty, then expect a lot of free throws,” added Cone, whose import shot 38-of-70 free throws against the Bolts and 19-of-44 versus Alaska in the quarterfi nals.
Petron Blaze rookie coach Gee Abanilla, after losing Game 2 (100-93) that leveled the best-of-seven championship series at 1-1, pointed to the number of free throws given to San Mig Coffee and the fouls called against his team in the first two games of the Finals.
After taking 26 free throws (16 made) in Game 1, the numbers increased for the Mixers in Game 2 where they shot 29-of-55. Blakely, the Bobby Parks-Best Import this conference, now has a combined 15-of-35 shooting from the charity in the Finals.
In contrast, the Boosters have trooped the foul line 43 times so far in the Finals – 12 in Game 1, 31 in Game 2. They made 29. Abanilla also pointed to the fouls assessed on his team, 21 in the series-opener and 33 the following game which resulted to three players fouling out – import Elijah Millsap, Best Player of the Conference (BPC) Arwind Santos and 6-foot-10 rookie June Mar Fajardo.
San Mig Coffee, on the other hand, has accumulated team 26 fouls in two games, including a Finals record low seven in Game 1. Cone said it is their strategy, knowing that Petron is a good free throw shooting team (at least 70 percent this conference).
“In all honesty, we’d prefer to shoot less free throw. But saying you got 31 free throws and that’s not enough, then how many do you want?”
“We are certainly not trying to foul anyone on their team. They shoot the free throw too well,” said Cone, referring to Petron Blaze’s overall free throw shooting of almost 70 percent as compared to his team’s nearly 55 percent.
Game 3 is set today, and it will be interesting if Petron Blaze will have a different strategy as far as sending opponents to the line, or if they will change the way they play defense to adjust to the calls of the referees.