by Tito S. Talao
Manila, Philippines – It took four conferences, but the rematch of the protagonists in the 2012 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals is on.
Leaving three-quarters of an all-time record crowd of 24,883 in stunned silence, the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers annihilated the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings, 110-87, last night in the do-or-die Game 7 of the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup semifinals to arrange a title showdown with Rain or Shine at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Game 1 of the Finals is tomorrow, 8 p.m., at the Big Dome, with the well-rested Elasto Painters facing an opponent still gasping for breath after a grueling series.
The San Mig franchise, then known as the B-Meg Llamados, dragged the season-ending championship series with Rain or Shine to a Game 7 that year before losing as the E-Painters celebrated their first ever PBA title.
It is the 25th final appearance for the San Mig franchise, its 2nd straight, and 4th in six conferences under coach Tim Cone.
“There’s too much James [Yap] and PJ [Simon] tonight,” said Cone, marveling at his guards’ performance. “I don’t know what’s going on, really, what they ate. I’ve never seen shooting like that. Just phenomenal.”
Yap unloaded 30 points on 7 of 10 shooting from 3-point area, while Simon added 28. Marc Pingris, who declared Game 7 a done deal, had 8 points with 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and 4 blocks.
The knockout shattered the previous gate record of 23,436 set in Game 3 of the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup best-of-5 Finals between Alaska Milk and Barangay Ginebra which the Aces swept.
It was San Mig all the way from start to finish, turning an anticipated epic battle into a forgettable rout which went down as the most lopsided Game 7 ever. The Mixers fanned the flames from the opening jump, blew it into a wildfire and never cooled down, completely incinerating the Kings.
The Mixers conducted a clinic in the first half, educating the Kings on the value of patient ball movement, the pick-and-roll and the extra pass in opening a 57-44 lead behind the red-hot shooting of James Yap.
Yap, who turns 32 on Saturday, buried five 3-point shots against every imaginable defense thrown at him, including a zone which the two-time MVP shredded with efficient ease.
He had 24 points at the turn, hitting 5 of 7 from beyond the arc and 4 of 8 from within.
The Mixers surprised everybody by putting the ball early in the hands of defensive specialist Rafi Reavis who scored San Mig’s first eight points, sending the Ginebra bench on a spin.
With power forward Marc Pingris again on playmaker LA Tenorio to disrupt Ginebra’s set-up plays for its big men, San Mig held the Kings to 37 percent from the floor, including 4 of 13 from 3-point range, and just 10 assists.
So fluid was San Mig’s ball rotation in tracking down anybody left free by the Kings’ slumbering defensive recovery that it posted 20 assists from 24 field goals in the first half alone, surpassing its 17.8 assist average in the series.