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Barako nips San Mig

Games Today (Smart Araneta)
5:45 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Meralco
8 p.m. – Air21 vs Barangay Ginebra

Barako Bull dealt San Mig Super Coffee its first defeat after rallying from a 16-point deficit to score a 92-90 victory in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Energy Cola came storming back from a 78-62 deficit at the end of the third behind veteran Willie Miller and import Josh Dollard before Ronjay Buenafe buried two pressure-packed free throws with 7.2 seconds left to shatter a 90-all deadlock.

San Mig had a chance to force an overtime period but Philippine Cup Finals Most Valuable Player Mark Barroca missed a running one-hander on the game’s final play, enabling Barako to snap a three-game losing skid.

“My players continued to follow the game plan,” said Barako Bull coach Bong Ramos. “We prepared a lot of game plan, we cannot match them 1-on-1. We put them away from their comfort zone.”

“It’s an upset, tsamba talaga,” he added.

The victory improved Barako Bull’s record to 2-4 while San Mig dropped to third place in the team standings with a 3-1 card behind unbeaten Talk ’N Text (6-0) and San Miguel Beer (4-1).

Miller led a 16-0 run in the first few minutes of the fourth by scoring eight points to tie the game at 78-all with 6:23 left to play. The former two-time MVP finished with 19 points and 10 assists.

Dollard collected 19 of his 32 points in the second half, including a three-point shot that gave the Energy Cola a 90-88 lead, 1:28 remaining. He also grabbed 17 rebounds.

PJ Simon tied the score with barely a minute remaining, setting the stage for thrilling finish.

Import James Mays led San Mig with 20 points and 21 boards. Joe Devance added 17 markers, Simon had 16 and James Yap contributed 12 points.

Meanwhile, the confirmation from Meralco Bolts coach Ryan Gregorio came early Tuesday morning: The Polar Bear is playing tomorrow.

That would be today when the Bolts, basking in the glow of their mighty comeback from 20 points down against Air21 Sunday and Brian Butch’s 40 points and 31 rebounds performance, take on struggling Rain or Shine at the Big Dome.

Gametime is at 5:45 p.m. preceding the 8 p.m. encounter between Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Air21.

The top two teams after the single round classification get twice-to-beat incentives against the 7th and 8th-ranked ball clubs in the quarterfinal playoffs while the 9th and 10th placers get the boot.