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PBA: Mixers go for jugular

Agustin rues botched up plays at endgame

Game Today (Smart Araneta)
8 p.m. – Barangay Ginebra vs San Mig Coffee (Game 6)

Unless Mark Barroca starts defying coaching instructions and James Yap begins driving to the basket when he had to take 3s, San Mig Super Coffee could end it all today in Game 6 of the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at the Smart Coliseum.

And the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings could spend the rest of the conference and the break pondering the playoffs’ biggest mysteries and wondering how their Twin Tower alignment could be trashed by an opponent whose best rebounder stands 6-foot-3?

Of course, the Kings could patch up their differences and return to the court fully committed to stay alive while putting behind them all harrowing theories hounding their 79-76 loss in Game 5.

If that happens, then Game 7 wouldn’t be too far-fetched even if Barroca, Yap and the rest of the Mixers were to put everything on the line at 8 tonight.

Holding a precious gift that is a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series, the Mixers gun for a place in the Finals against the Kings who dominated the eliminations but now find themselves backed against the wall.

“It’s just a one-game lead,” said Mixers coach Tim Cone. “This game doesn’t mean much; we gotta finish it off [on Monday].” Awaiting for whoever emerges from this bruising series is Rain or Shine which whipped Petron Blaze in five games in their semis matchup.

San Mig won Game 1 on a closing-second jumper by Barroca, 85-83, but Ginebra fought back to tie the series via a rout, 93-64. The Mixers then took Game 3 for a 2-1 lead, 97-89, before the Kings survived Game 5 where Yap missed a late 3-pointer that would have forced overtime, 85-82.

With the series tied, the Mixers and the Kings battled through 5 deadlocks and 14 lead changes two days ago, with Yap’s redemption 3-pointer with 13 seconds giving San Mig a 78-76 lead.

Ginebra coach Ato Agustin called time and here things took a dizzying turn.

LA Tenorio inbounded to Greg Slaughter and got the ball back. But instead of setting up the play and managing the remaining time, Tenorio drove straight to the basket with Barroca all over him.

The ball didn’t get closer than a foot from the rim.

Later, Agustin told Spin.ph: “It was supposed to be a pick and roll, not a hurried shot. Eh sabi ko dapat nasa proper spots sila. Pero parang nagmadali. Imagine, nakakuha pa sila (Mixers) ng foul shot.

“Pero kailangan may shooters ako na maki-kick out kasi 13 seconds pa ‘yun eh. Matagal pa ‘yun. We’re down by two points and they were in penalty. I told them to make sure we go hard dahil marami naman tayong options.

“So sabi ko, nag-draw ako ng play on their spots. Eh wala eh, nagmadali, tapos nag-miss.”

Tenorio, whose free throws helped the Kings take Game 4, also missed Ginebra’s final shot, a well-defended fast break layup with San Mig ahead by 3.

Cone, who used to coach Tenorio when both were still with the Alaska Aces, admitted being surprised at having to defend against a driving layup instead of a desperation three-point shot.

“For a while I wasn’t sure if we were up by 2 or 3,” he said. “But one can get caught up in the moment sometimes.”

Not Barroca.

The former Far Eastern Tamaraw had 14 points to lead the Mixers, and his mastery over the Ginebra playmakers in this series is one of the conference’s biggest revelations and could be the main reason why the Mixers, as a franchise, are one win away from a rematch with their 2012 Governors Cup Finals conquerors.

Both teams erred at the side of carelessness and haste, with Ginebra committing 24 and San Mig 22. But while the Mixers picked up 27 points, the Kings just converted 18. They also went 3 of 16 from 3-point range, with Jajay Helterbrand going 0 of 3, Mac Baracael 1 of 6, and Tenorio 1 of 4, to go with 6 turnovers as in Game 4.