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PBA: Mixers, Express in KO match

Marc Pingris and Wesley Witherspoon

Game Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
8 p.m. – Air21 vs San Mig Super Coffee

Manila, Philippines – After benching import James Mays in the fourth quarter, San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone said he’s ready to use the six-foot-nine center in tonight’s knockout match with Air21.

Game 5 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals will be played at 8 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“It’s in the family and we’ll keep it in the family,” said Cone who declined to explain the reason behind Mays’ benching. Mays finished with 14 points and 21 rebounds.

Air21 deflated the Mixers, 94-91, Monday despite playing without do-it-all forward Sean Anthony to force the rubber match.

This will be the second straight time in the semis that San Mig is in a do-or-die encounter, winning Game 7 against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the previous Philippine Cup.

The winner will advance into another best-of-five showdown for the championship opposite top seed and unbeaten Talk ’N Text.

The Tropang Texters swept the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters last Friday, extending their winning streak to 13 games.

Air21 will again rely on import Wesley Witherspoon who had eight three-pointers on his way to 32 points during Game 4. Also expected to give the Express a lift are Asi Taulava, Joseph Yeo and Mark Cardona.

“We came back to the system we are doing,” said Air21 mentor Franz Pumaren.

The Express aren’t new to elimination games. They defeated San Miguel Beer twice during the quarterfinals.

Pumaren, however, are wary of the Mixers’ experience.

“This is a new thing for some of my players, but for San Mig, they’ve been here in this situation,” he said.

The 6-foot-4 Anthony, who tied his career-best 29 points in a 103-100 triumph in Game 1, is again a doubtful starter after missing the previous two games.

“He’s still day-to-day,” said Pumaren.

“He’s joining the team’s shooting drills, walk-through, but not in scrimmages,” Pumaren said. (Waylon Galvez)