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PBA: Mixers take game 1

blakely lee, pingris

Game Tomorrow (Smart Araneta)
8 p.m. – San Mig Coffee vs Rain or Shine

Manila, Philippines – Grand Slam-seeking San Mig Super Coffee took the physically-draining Game 1 of the PBA PLDT Home Telpad Governors’ Cup Finals last night, 104-101, but not after Rain or Shine hanged a big question mark on the outcome following a disputed no-call just before the buzzer at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Game 2 is tomorrow, 8 p.m., at the Smart Araneta Coliseum although the aftertaste of the best-of-5 opener, a bitter pill to swallow for the Elasto Painters, who led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, could linger up to that time unless an acceptable explanation comes their way.

Trailing, 104-101, after Mixers guard PJ Simon split his free throws with 3.6 seconds remaining, the Elasto Painters inbounded crosscourt to Paul Lee, who had Marc Pingris all over him.

Unable to get a clear look at the basket, Lee, about half a foot shorter, took a step back with Pingris taking a step forward and biting into a pump fake from the 3-point area.

Lee then took off, with his shooting hand brushing against the outstretched arms of the airborne Pingris. Lee fell to the floor, apparently for more impact, but drew no whistle from the referees.

The Rain or Shine bench, with coach Yeng Guiao and board representative Mert Mondragon, sprung from the bench to question the no-call right inside the playing court.

PBA technical consultant Perry Martinez went on record on national television that he felt a foul should have been called.

“I don’t know whether that was a foul or not,” said San Mig coach Tim Cone during the post-game interview. “I was far away.”

Video footage seemed conclusive although no official statement has yet come from the Commissioner’s Office.

“I just thought Paul got fouled on that last play,” said Guiao. “AZ Reid got the same call and they gave him the three shots. That’s just too big a break to lose.”

With the victory, the Mixers are now only two wins away from becoming just the fourth team in league history to complete a three-conference sweep after Crispa (1976 and 1983), San Miguel Beer (1989) and Alaska Milk (1996).

Cone, who coached Alaska that year, also stands to become the league’s first two-time Grand Slam mentor.

Alein Maliksi keyed San Mig’s comeback in the third quarter and James Yap sealed it with spectacular fourth quarter explosion, including hitting a 3-pointer that gave the Mixers a 99-98 lead with 57 seconds remaining.