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PBA: Mixers find way to crack TNT zone

Pingris and De Ocampo


Two Grand Slam coaches; two different views.

Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black believed their 8-of-19 free throw shooting doomed them in Game 5 of the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals against San Mig Super Coffee last Friday.

Black said his piece after he emerged from the locker room following the 93-87 loss, telling Spin.Ph, “Our main problem was that we are the number one free throw shooting team in the league and we shot 8-of-19. You don’t expect to win the game with that. That is something that hurt us in this game.”

Tim Cone, the Mixers mentor, felt it might have been something else.

“They blew us out with the zone in Game 4,” said Cone. “It’s good James [Yap] was on fire and kept us alive [in Game 5]. But we knew that if we kept seeing the zone, we’d get better at finding ways to attack it. And we did.”

Cone was in no way trying to contradict Black.

The San Mig coach spoke first and well ahead of his TNT counterpart, offering his opinion during the post-game interview when asked by sportswriters what he thought of the defense the Tropang Texters had used against them.

Black was correct in pointing a finger at their woeful shooting from the stripe where Jayson Castro went 1of 4, and Danny Seigle, Elmer Espiritu and Ryan Reyes all 0 of 2.

That’s nine points down the drain right there.

Trouble is, San Mig went 16 of 31 from the line, which meant the Mixers missed 15!

To his credit, Black never raised a howl over the difference in free throws awarded. But he did react strongly during the game to what he felt was a crucial traveling violation on Mark Barroca at the TNT baseline and contact on Ranidel de Ocampo just before he lost the ball to Barroca both late in the game and which, in both instances, drew no whistle.

Cone, on the other hand, provided the answer to how they were able to solve the riddle of the zone: Because they saw too much of it for too long and too often.

“We basically practiced against the zone for three days,” Cone said, indicating the Mixers were given all the time to find a cure because the Texters had used the same defense for three straight games in the best-of-5 series.

With their zone neutralized in the third quarter, the Texters groped for something else to barricade against the Mixers, switching to a straight-up man-to-man and then back to the zone. It was all for naught, however, as San Mig continued without letup after seizing control behind Yap and Barroca, its 15 missed free throws overall notwithstanding.

Half of those nine missed free throws could have made all the difference for Talk ‘N Text, especially down the stretch. Yet only if its defense holds.

In the end, both coaches have a point. Only one of them, however, has a victory to go with it.

San Mig Coffee 93 — Yap 25, Blakely 21, Barroca 17, Devance 11, Pingris 10, Simon 7, Sanggalang 2, Taha 0, Melton 0, Reavis 0, Hoilstein 0, Mallari 0, Gaco 0, Maliksi 0, Matias 0.

Talk N Text 87 — Harris 40, De Ocampo 13, Castro 11, Seigle 8, Espiritu 7, Fonacier 4, Williams 2, Rob Reyes 2, Alapag 0, Carey 0, Baclao 0, Canaleta 0, Ryan Reyes 0, Aban 0.

Quarters” 21-20; 37-38; 62-55; 93-87.