by Tito S. Talao
Game Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
8 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Petron Blaze
Manila, Philippines – Keeping the brew strong and steaming all night long, especially in the fourth quarter, the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers have taken back the driver’s seat after falling off the wheel in Game 2.
Playmaker Mark Barroca unleashed 25 points, many on those one-handed jumpers that punctuated his Game 1 heroics, to power the Mixers past the one-dimensional Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings, 97-89, last night for a 2-1 lead in the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Nowhere did the Kings resemble the deadly form that completely destroyed San Mig, 93-64, last Friday as they reverted to their sorry individual ways and pitiable shot selection.
“We deserved a good game after that blowout,” said San Mig coach Tim Cone. “The guys got a lot of character coming out strong.”
Barroca was right in the middle of everything that went well for San Mig.
The Mixers’ pressure defense forced back-to-back turnovers by the Ginebra ball-handler late in the third quarter and Barroca converted them both for a 68-66 lead which San Mig never relinquished.
Ginebra leveled once and pulled up close several times, but PJ Simon, Joe Devance and rookie Justin Melton hit clutch triples every time to keep the Kings at bay.
The Kings lost shooter Mac Baracael on two technicals early in the third and back-up point guard Emman Monfort at the start of the fourth on an ankle sprain, and both clearly had a profound effect on Ginebra’s rotation.
Largely due to 6-foot-11 Greg Slaughter, the Kings took a 47-46 lead at halftime despite one of their most atrocious first quarters this conference.
Ginebra, with no assist in the first period as a consequence of its propensity for individual play, trailed, 9-2, after missing their first five shots, with Japeth Aguilar, forcing the issue a little too much, going 1 of 8.
It was 21-6 and 23-8 halfway through for the Mixers when Slaughter started getting hot – from the free throw line and under the offensive glass.
Slaughter, who had 19 points and 9 rebounds in the first 12 minutes, scored all of Ginebra’s last 10 points in a 10-2 run that cut the deficit to 25-16 and helped launch the Kings’ second quarter comeback behind 3-pointers from LA Tenorio, Mac Baracael, Mark Caguioa and a game-clock beating 3 from Tenorio that gave Ginebra its first taste of the lead.