With the most talented local big men out for both sides, point guard Marc Barroca shone with two late jumpers that helped San Mig Coffee scuttle Barangay Ginebra, 89-86, last night and enhance the Mixers’ playoff chances in the PBA Governors’ Cup.
In front of the tournament’s biggest crowd of over 15,000 rooting for the league’s two most popular squads, the 5-foot-10 Barroca stood out as San Mig rose to a level 3-3 card and put the Gin Kings on the bubble at 2-4.
The tournament calls for a single-round elimination and the Kings dropped into a tie for eighth spot with Globalport (See first game story on A31).
Only two of the 10 teams will get the boot.
“It was almost a must-win game for both of us,” San Mig coach Tim Cone later told reporters. “We battled for that one and we came out on top. But that game could have gone either way.”
Ginebra opened up with a 12-0 lead and took a 14-point advantage in the first period before the Mixers got their acts together to take control of the contest in the third quarter.
San Mig then started the fourth period with an 11-4 tear and built a 76-67 buffer, only for the Kings to dig deep again and make a game out of it in the stretch, coming within two points several times, the last at 83-85 with 1:41 left, after two Mark Caguioa free throws.
And that was when Barroca stepped in.
Barroca canned two straight jumpers from basically the same spot which sandwiched those Caguioa free throws, before import Marcus Blakely put the game to bed for the Mixers with an unmolested tomahawk dunk with 69 seconds left for 89-83.
Absent men hardly missed
San Mig missed the suspended Marc Pingris and Joe Devance while Kerby Raymundo and Japeth Aguilar were still in sick bay for the Kings. But their absence hardly took the luster away from the game with James Yap playing great on both ends.
Yap, a two-time MVP, scored 19 points, grabbed nine rebounds and played a heck of a defensive game on Caguioa, the reigning MVP who was starved to a 0-of-11 clip from the field on the way to six points.
“I am really, really proud of him,” Cone said of Yap, who made up for two critical airballs with a running jumper that made it 81-75.
Blakely went on to lead San Mig with 30 points and 10 rebounds. Barroca and PJ Simon finished with 10 each.
Dior Lowhorn was left to carry the fight in the shaded lane for the Kings and wound up with 29 points and 18 boards. LA Tenorio added 17 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
SAN MIG COFFEE 89—Blakely 30, Yap 19, Barroca 10, Simon 10, Maliksi 8, De Ocampo 6, Reavis 4, Mallari 2, Acuna 0, Gaco 0.
GINEBRA 86—Lowhorn 29, Tenorio 17, Ellis 8, Wilson 7, Baracael 6, Mamaril 6, Caguioa 6, Helterbrand 5, Maierhofer 2, Ababou 0, Urbiztondo 0.
Quarters: 22-26, 43-40, 66-63, 89-86