by Waylon Galvez
Manila, Philippines – Expect another heated showdown as Grand Slam-seeking San Mig Super Coffee and Air21 meet for the first time since their exciting semifinal showdown last conference today in the PLDT Home Telpad PBA Governors’ Cup today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Toting similar 4-2 records, the Mixers and the Express go separate ways when they clash 8 p.m. in a lone game that is expected to be as fiery as their five-game semis encounter in the Commissioner’s Cup which the Mixers eventually won.
The winner in today’s match will boost their bid for a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
Air21 coach Franz Pumaren would like to see his team put up the same defensive intensity as it did in Wednesday’s 80-67 victory over Meralco.
“It’s going to be another tough game,” said Pumaren.
“We just have to continue what we did in the past couple of games and that is to defend well and execute our game plan. We’re playing well at the moment so we expect to compete against San Mig,” added Pumaren.
Against Meralco, import Dominique Sutton finished with 25 points and 18 rebounds, while Asi Taulava contributed 22 points and 12 boards. Mark Cardona came off the bench to add 11 points for the Express.
Sutton is averaging 24.8 points and 14.5 rebounds this conference, while his partner Taulava has 17.8 points and 14 boards. Joseph Yeo (11.3 points) and Cardona (10.2 points) are also expected to step up against the Mixers.
San Mig, on the other hand, dropped its last game versus Alaska, 84-93, last Friday that snapped a three-game streak.
In that game, San Mig import Marqus Blakely was held to 11 points after he exploded for 34 points in a convincing 102-90 victory over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel last June 1.
San Mig coach Tim Cone is confident the energetic Blakely can bounce back and get help from James Yap, Marc Pingris, Mark Barroca, PJ Simon, Joe Devance and rookies Justin Melton and Ian Sangalang.
The Mixers’ loss came after the Aces suffered an embarrassing 51-point loss to Rain or Shine last Wednesday.