By TITO S. TALAO
Manila, Philippines – Even after they parted ways, the mentor continues to educate his former student.
The Grand Slam-seeking Mixers buried Barangay Ginebra San Miguel under tons of full-court press defense conversions in the fourth quarter last night to grab solo leadership with a runaway 102-90 victory before a crowd of 17,118 in the PBA PLDT Home Telpad Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
San Mig picked up its fourth win in five games while giving Ginebra a taste of vulnerability in its first loss after three straight victories, leaving the Kings tied at second spot with Air21 and Talk ‘N Text.
In their first meeting since former assistant coach Jeff Cariaso left San Mig after the second conference to coach Ginebra, Mixers coach Tim Cone dished out lessons from which his onetime pupil could learn from.
“They have to respond to adversity, see what teams are going to do against it and learn,” said Cone. “This will be a lesson to them. When this happens again, they’ll grow and get better.”
Marqus Blakely had 34 points and 17 rebounds, 15 of his output coming in the last 12 minutes when the full-court pressing Mixers picked up most of their 19 turnover points from Ginebra’s 20 total miscues.
It was 70-all at three-quarters end. But Blakely seized control in the fourth, when the Kings couldn’t even take the ball across the mid-court, while no Ginebra player, except Mark Caguioa (7 points ), had more than four.
The Meralco Bolts, meanwhile, finally snapped out of a four-game nightmare, turning back the Alaska Aces, 88-87, for only their first win in five games.
“A big win for us since our main purpose is to stay alive,” said Bolts coach Ryan Gregorio, who came frighteningly close to yet another dying-second collapse when the Aces regained possession for a game-winning play with 8 seconds remaining.
Walker drove in and drew a double-team defense, firing a pass to an open Dondon Hontiveros on the left side with time running down. Hontiveros then faked David off his feet to open a lane along the baseline.
But for some unknown reason, instead of pulling up or driving hard to the basket, Hontiveros chose to kick the ball back out to Walker, who couldn’t release a proper shot at the buzzer.
West led the Bolts with 21 points and 9 rebounds while Cliff Hodge added 20 and 12 boards. Playmaker Mike Cortez returned from a left knee injury to score 19 points with 5 assists.
MERALCO 88 – West 21, Hodge 20, Cortez 19, Hugnatan 16, Guevarra 9, David 3, Bringas 0, Caram 0, Sena 0.
ALASKA 87 –Walker 25, Abueva 17, Casio 15, Espinas 13, Baguio 9, Jazul 3, Hontiveros 3, Manuel 2, Belasco 0, Dela Cruz 0, Thoss 0.
Quarters: 21-20, 44-38, 66-64, 88-87
SAN MIG SUPER COFFEE 102 – Blakely 34, Simon 19, Barroca 11, Maliksi 9, Devance 8, Pingris 8, Yap 8, Sangalang 4, Reavis 1, Mallari 0.
GINEBRA 90 – Mason 18, Caguioa 18, Aguilar 12, Slaughter 11, Tenorio 11, Ellis 6, Helterbrand 5, Monfort 5, Reyes 2, Mamaril 2, Baracael 0, Ababou 0.
Quarters: 26-25, 47-50, 70-70, 102-90