by Waylon Galvez
Game Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
8 p.m. – Air21 vs San Mig Super Coffee
Manila- Philippines – Air21 shoots for a 2-0 advantage when it plays San Mig Super Coffee in Game 2 of their semifinal series in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The unheralded Express provided the shocker of the semifinal with a stunning 103-100 win Tuesday night over the favored Mixers and have the momentum in their 8 p.m. encounter.
The victory of Air21 improved its playoff record to 3-0, including the two wins against twice-to-beat San Miguel Beer in the quarterfinals.
The Express are just two games away from recording a franchise first – a seat in the finals.
While thrilled with the victory, Air21 coach Franz Pumaren knows they still need to win two more, and they are determined to do that although he expects San Mig Super Coffee coach Tim Cone to come up with a better game plan.
“We still need two more wins, this is just a small step in this semifinals series,” said Pumaren.
“The beauty right now is we’re staying within our course. Remember, we’re just here to seize the moment. We’re the uninvited guest here right now, nobody thought we’ll be here (in the semifinals),” added Pumaren.
In Game 1, Air21 used a crucial 13-1 run as import Wesley Witherspoon joined hands with Joseph Yeo, Aldrech Ramos and Asi Taulava to turn an 87-85 deficit to a 98-88 advantage with 1:17 left in the game.
During the Air21’s uprising, the 41-year-old Taulava made a key layup but the referees may have missed a call as replays showed he took three steps, a traveling violation.
San Mig mentor Tim Cone angrily protested the non-call and confronted the referees at mid-court. He was assessed with two technical fouls and ejected with 1:17 to go.
San Mig had a chance to send the game into extra period but import James Mays missed a three-point shot at the buzzer.
Air21 forward Sean Anthony came off the bench to tie a career-best 29 points – thanks to an impressive 5-of-6 shooting from three-point range.
Witherspoon, as usual, put on another significant performance added 25 points while Taulava and Yeo had 14 and 11 points, respectively.
Despite expecting another stiff challenge from the Mixers, Pumaren intends to keep the same formula to beat the Mixers for the second straight game.
“It’s really a team effort,” said Pumaren.