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PBA: Mixers strike back

Joe De Vance and Ranidel De Ocampo

San Mig squeaks past Talk ‘N Text, takes 2-1 lead

Manila, Philippines – San Mig Super Coffee is on the verge of dealing Talk ‘N Text another harrowing championship nightmare.

Two years after tormenting the Tropang Texters by stealing Game 7 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals, the Mixers, then known as the B-Meg Llamados, are one game away from dooming yet another TNT campaign with a heart-stopping 77-75 thriller in Game 3 last night for a 2-1 lead in their best-of-5 title showdown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Mixers, who won the previous Philippine Cup, can stay in the hunt for a Triple Crown, a three-conference sweep otherwise known as the Grand Slam, with a Game 4 triumph in the PLDT Home TVolution PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals tomorrow, 8 p.m., at the Philsports Arena (formerly ULTRA) in Pasig.

Losing Game 4 would be extra traumatic for the Tropang Texters, who swept the elimination round, the quarters and the semifinals for a 13-0 record going to the championship series. Their failure to stop San Mig should also be especially crushing since TNT would’ve fallen short in avenging the ruin of its own Grand Slam bid in 2012 after they won the first conference Philippine Cup earlier.

“It was a game for ages in my opinion, two real proud teams that don’t quit and keep fighting,” said San Mig coach Tim Cone. “Tremendous game. One big shot after one big shot. In the end, our defense made a big stop.”

James Yap hit a fall-away jumper from deep right with 28 seconds left to give the Mixers a 76-75 lead, capping a comeback where the Texters took a 75-71 advantage on back-to-back 3-pointers by Ranidel de Ocampo and Jayson Castro.

TNT called time but De Ocampo turned the ball over on a strong bounce pass to Castro in front of the Texters bench and Joe Devance hit a free throw with 4.8 seconds to go, making it 77-75.

The Texters had a last gasp, with Castro taking the inbounds pass. Jimmy Alapag was open momentarily and waited for the ball which didn’t come as Castro took a well-guarded 3-pointer that clanged off the back iron.

Meanwhile, Castro won his second Best Player of the Conference award, besting teammate De Ocampo, Air21’s comeback star Asi Taulava, and San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos.

TNT’s Richard Howell, a defensive and rebounding force throughout the conference, joined Castro at mid-court in the awarding ceremony after claiming the Bobby Parks-Best Import trophy.

SAN MIG SUPER COFFEE 77 – Mays 20, Simon 17, Yap 13, Devance 10, Pingris 7, Sangalang 6, Barroca 2, Mallari 2, De Ocampo 0, Reavis 0, Melton 0.

TALK N’ TEXT 75 – Castro 21, De Ocampo 18, Canaleta 12, Howell 10, Williams 5, Carey 5, Reyes Ryan 4, Reyes Rob 0, Aban 0, Fonacier 0, Alapag 0.

Quarters: 25-15, 37-35, 60-56, 77-75